Khoudia Diop, more commonly known by Melanin Goddess is a Senegalese model and actress. In Senegal, and most African countries, it’s common for the ebony-skinned women to use bleaching products, but Khoudia Diop decided to do the opposite but not without enduring bullying and pressure to lighten her skin. Diop is now an anti-bullying activist and signed to The Colored Girl, a creative agency dedicated to confronting and pushing the boundaries of industry standards of beauty. “We share a joint goal: to inspire, empower, and uplift women of colour worldwide, and I was excited when they asked me to be a part of something so positive,” she told CNN.

“I was born in Senegal in 1996. My mom moved to New York when I was two years old, so I was raised by my aunt back home. And in Senegal more than 25 per cent of dark-skinned girls bleach their skin.”

I never tried it, but I’m not going to lie, I wanted to be lighter. There were times I wouldn’t leave my room for weeks and sometimes missed school because I hated how people would look at me. I really felt ashamed. But my older sister helped me find the positive: She used to show me pictures of Alek Wek to say, “See! You can be a model if you want!”

As the awareness continues to discourage the use of harmful bleaching products, Diop serves as a constant reminder that there are so many types of beauty that all deserve to be celebrated.

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