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Beauty the saying goes is in the eye of the beholder. And many of the kids who saw Khoudia Diop saw only her skin color which they considered too dark. Diop says all her life, she grew up having people bully her and laugh at her because of skin color; “I was picked on by other kids, when I was a bit younger because [of the darkness] of my skin tone…” Diop continues saying, “this is something that is actually quite normal in Senegal. It’s not a nice feeling…”
Diop like so many of us had to put up with childhood taunts about our color, our hair, our weight or some other physical characteristic that others find unacceptable.
The 19 year old Senegalese woman now lives in Paris and has used the hurtful remarks of others to launch a career in the modeling world. The feature that so many find laughable has made her bankable in an industry that is always looking for new ways to redefine beauty. Diop says she started modeling two years ago after spending years of learning how to deal with all the negativity about her appearance. Instead of running and hiding from her taunters, Diop looked deep inside to find her true beauty and courage, “As I grew, I learned to love myself more every day, and not pay attention to the negative people. I’ve learned to ignore the negative people and just be a living example of confidence and self-love. I let my life, and success, speak for itself,” Diop is not just overcoming the trauma caused by bullying, but she is helping others to cope with similar situations by working with the group The Colored Girl, Inc. to celebrate women of all colors and backgrounds. Diop says one of her life goals is to “make all my darkskinned sisters out there laugh at those mf with their “beauty standards” they’re nobody noooobody to tell you how you should look.” She’s getting her message out there one follower at a time…Diop’s already amassed about 235,000 fans on IG alone. It’s still difficult.There are days when she finds herself still bullied online and all the haunting memories of childhood nicknames like “darky” and “daughter of the night” come rushing back. But Diop confronts old bullying memories of horrible nicknames by renaming herself “Melanin Goddess” as a self-proclamation that she will not be limited by the narrow minds of others.
Some will want to dismiss the bullying that Diop suffered as a child as “just kids being kids” and that children don’t know any better. Then as parents, we are responsible for what we teach them and if our kids don’t know better then it might be because we as parents failed to teach them better. Black women, and some men, sometimes end up believing the words of others and hate themselves so much they cause irreversible damage by trying skin bleaching and lightening products. Just surf the net and you can find endless stories of Black, Latino and White kids being targeted by bullies to the point that children become depressed and sometimes want to die to escape it all.
Diop found the strength to overcome the words of others and embrace her beauty. She encourages others who may be in similar situations of being bullied for their skin color, hair, weight or whatever not to let others make you feel less beautiful, capable or smart. Diop says instead, “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change”.