It’s already difficult for most of us to be comfortable in our own skin. But for Khoudia Diop, life was unbearable.

Bullying and racism

‘I was teased a lot growing up, because of my skin tone. By other kids, and now even online sometimes, people will make comments. Born in Senegal and moved to France when she was 15, she was called racial slurs.

It got so bad she stopped going to school.

I was so ashamed of it that I would spend hours in the shower crying and trying to wash my skin off.

– Khoudia Diop

At first, Diop said that she used to confront them. However, she’d soon change course and fade her haters.

The birth of her confidence

At 17, Diop decided to lean into her darkness and pursue modeling.

“I wanted to express myself using visuals and also celebrate the beauty of black women, travel and have amazing opportunities,” she says.

She debuted in the The Colored Girl campaign ‘Rebirth,’ and that it was. Her Instagram followers soared to over 300,000 in just three months.

Ditching her days of crying in the shower, Diop has renamed herself the ‘Melanin Queen,’ embracing her beauty, inside and out. However, her motivation goes far beyond herself.

“[I gave myself the nickname] because of my dark, melanin-rich complexion, and because I want to inspire young girls and let them know that we are all goddesses inside and out,” she told People.

Self-love is skin deep

For Diop, her mission continues.

She wrote on Facebook: “One of my goals is to make all my dark-skinned sisters out there laugh at those with their “beauty standards” they’re nobody noooobody to tell you how you should look. Start glowing queen. [sic]”

In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about Mitiote, which an old Aztec term which is basically gossip, words that poison and bring others down.

The book talks about how life’s a big dream, and how, in their own way, others try to impose their dreams on you. And, in Khoudia Diop’s case, the hateful comments she received were a reflection of the character and state of the bullies.

Ultimately, the dream we live is the dream we choose. Like Diop, we can choose to live one where we’re the star of our life and validate ourselves.

Self-love is not something that you get in one day or two days. It’s an ongoing process and I go through it every day.

– Khoudia Diop

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