(Photo: Nyakim Gatwech via Twitter)
We’ve had plenty of Uber drivers who were a bit too chatty for our liking — but model Nyakim Gatwech, dubbed as “Queen of the Dark” by fans, had an altercation that made us shudder.
Earlier this year, she went viral after posting her story about her encounter with a racist Uber driver on Instagram. She was asked if she would bleach her skin for $10,000 during the uncomfortable ride. See below for an excerpt on the encounter:
"I was [asked by] my Uber driver the other day, he said, 'Don't take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars would you bleach your skin for that amount?’ I couldn't even respond I started laughing so hard."
"[Then] he said, 'So that a no' and I was like hell to the f*king yeah [that's] no, why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God [blessed] me with," she added. "[Then] he said so you look at it as a blessing?"
Nyakim, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 14 from Sudan, was born in a refugee camp. "I never had a problem with my skin until I came to America, went to my middle school and realized everyone was staring at me. The kids made fun of me," Nyakim previously shared in an interview with Teen Vogue.
She also recalls being asked to “smile,” because that’s the only way kids could see her. Naturally, Nyakim was desperate to fit in with her classmates, admittedly buying foundation three shades lighter than her complexion, she revealed to Refinery 29 recently.
“I was getting made fun of at school anyway, so I didn’t care that my neck looked darker than my face. Back then, I used cosmetics for the wrong reasons. I didn’t feel like I was pretty, so I thought that if I put makeup on, then people would think I was beautiful. I’m glad to be at a stage where I don’t feel like I need it anymore.
“Growing up, people around me didn’t wear makeup. It’s not really a part of my culture. However, skin bleaching is. You didn’t see women wearing eyeshadow or foundation — they just wanted lighter skin. At one point, I thought I needed to bleach my skin to get a boyfriend. I’d go home and cry to my sister, who did it when she came to America at the age of 18. She didn’t get made fun of; she was tall and beautiful and looked like a model. At the time, I wanted to look just like her.”
Now, with 300k+ followers, the Minneapolis-based beauty uses her platforms to promote self-love (and acceptance) — while pushing the boundaries of beauty norms. Instead of shying away from bright colors and bold makeup, now Nyakim wants to embrace them.
“I empower dark skinned little girls who are bullied for having skin they can't change. A little girl wrote me a paragraph thanking me for loving myself. She told me that because I love myself she started to love herself too.”
Her final words? “It takes time to love who you are. Be confident in whatever the situation is. If you love yourself other people will see. It will shine through you and then they have the choice to accept you or walk away.”
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