Though she’s a confident model and Instagram star today, Khoudia Diop was bullied for her looks as a young girl. Growing up in Senegal, people called her names and made her feel ashamed for her most striking feature, her dark skin. Today, this self-described “Melanin Goddess” is sharing her confidence with others in the hopes that she can inspire other young girls to feel beautiful and embrace themselves exactly as they are.
Diop says, “Personally, it was always very difficult to find complexion productss that match my shade.
I was in Italy on vacation and I saw my reflection in a mirror. I saw how unique my skin was and why people stop me on the street to ask aboutit. I started falling in love with it.”
At 17, Diop decided to pursue modeling.
“I wanted to express myself using visuals and also celebrate the beauty of black women, travel and have amazing opportunities,” she says. “I also wanted to be a living example of inspiration for other women and girls. Growing up, I hadn’t really had that much inspiration in media and modeling until recently with women like Lupita Nyong’o.”
Diop — who now has 336,000 followers on her Instagram account — does admit that her journey to self-acceptance is still ongoing.
“Self-love is an ongoing process and practice,” she says. “I’ve had to sit with myself, learn myself, find the things I like about myself, and celebrate them. This is how I’ve recovered from the aggressive negativity sent my way.”
She hopes her breakthrough in the modeling world can inspire other people who may be ostracized or teased for their appearance.
“Learn yourself and love yourself,” Diop says to anyone who may be struggling. “Celebrate yourself… and stay positive!”