Growing up, I had just a tiny spec of my tooth chipped off, my hair was damaged and I have always hated my nose. I would always keep my mouth closed when smiling or taking a picture with someone, to not show my teeth. I hated taking pictures of myself and I have always been ashamed of my appearance. Some of my friends and family would bully me indirectly, about my chipped tooth. I would always try to hide my smile, when in reality, it was the best, brightest and most special thing but me. I had low self-esteem, hated how I looked and would always try to hide. But who hasn’t gone through this stage, or perhaps is even still suffering? You start to notice things about yourself that don’t exactly fit the beauty standards and criteria your society has put up. You start to listen to people, and actually believe them. You give them space to bully you, because you think they’re right, and that you deserve it. Whether people criticize you for your weight, appearance, skin color or even the way you talk, you have always been trying to hide and be invisible. But then I stumble on a video of a Sudanese model who changed my entire perspective.
Nyakim Gatwesh, a model in her 20’s from South of Sudan with extremely dark skin complexion, was once asked by an Uber driver if she’d accept $10,000 to get her skin bleached. She asked him why would she do that, and he said so that she could avoid dirty look, have an easier life and look more attractive. What she told him next ignited a fire inside of me. She told him I’m beautiful the way I am, I don’t live to be easy, and if it were easy I would choose the hard route to go!
Nyakim has been bullied ever since she was a little girl for her complexion. At school, walking on the streets and anywhere she’d go. But she was strong enough to face the world on a daily basis, with high self-esteem and confidence even the prettiest of girls do not have. She loves herself and accepts herself the way she is. This video is a message for every individual out there, struggling with self-acceptance and embracing their flaws.
You can follow Nyakim on Instagram where she speaks out against exhausting beauty standards.