NEW YORK, NY December 13, 2016
In 19-year-old Khoudia Diop’s home country of Senegal, between 52 and 67 percent of women use skin lightening products on a regular basis (this from a survey taken last year). Elidje Ekra, a dermatologist working in Abidjan (in the Ivory Coast, where skin-whitening products are banned) told The Guardian, “In our cultures, some people think women with light skin are the most beautiful. This beauty standard…pushes many girls to de-pigment their skin.” These creams not only perpetuate narrow, skewed standards of beauty, they often contain mercury and hydroquinine, chemicals with a slew of side effects, not the least of which is skin cancer. Diop, whose skin is a beautiful deep shade of ebony rarely seen in the media, doesn’t feel the need to conform to the status quo. Despite the fact that she grew up being bullied about her skin tone, she took the ignorance of her peers in stride. “It wasn’t always easy, but I found things I liked about myself and celebrated them,” Diop told Mic. These days, the self-described @Melaniin.Goddess uses her social media to showcase unconventional, healthy standards of beauty.
Khoudia’s gorgeous photos and videos, captioned with empowering hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic, #MelaninOnFleek and #BlackGirlsRock, spotlight the kind of natural, dark-skinned beauty the world needs to see more of. “One of my goals is to make all my dark-skinned sisters out there laugh at those mf with their ‘beauty standards,’” Diop wrote on Facebook.
Two years into her modeling career, Diop is #BreakingTheInternet with her message of self-love. She boasts over 320,000 Instagram followers, many of them due to her involvement in The Colored Girl project’s “Rebirth” campaign.
Victory Jones and Tori Elizabeth, co-founders of TCG, seek to “make the world aware of the beauty of the black woman in her own skin. In showing the different angles, perspective and depths of the black woman; highlighting the regality of the beautiful creatures we are, namely our skin tone and hair choices! Our beauty needs to continue to be celebrated since it’s historically, socially, politically, culturally exploited and seen as ‘less than’ by European/imperialist standards.”
Khoudia, who is now studying in France while simultaneously pursuing her modeling career, told the Huffington Post, “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.” And it speaks volumes.