Model Khoudia Diop just landed a major beauty campaign — and it's a really big win for representation.
The French-Senegalese beauty stars in Make Up For Ever's #BlendInStandOut ad, which includes a wide array of ethnically diverse models and influencers like Arshia Moorjani and Jessica Wang, and poses the question, "What do you stand for?"
In Diop's case, it's bullying, which is something she takes personally.
"People have made comments, calling me names like 'midnight' or 'mother of stars,'" she told Refinery29, when referring to how she was taunted by her peers as a teen for having dark skin. "At first I confronted the bullies, but eventually I learned to tune out the negativity and just love myself more."
Diop, who has also been dubbed as the "Melanin Goddess," being featured in a major makeup company's ad campaign is incredibly important to create more visibility for women of colour, especially those who are often overlooked by the cosmetics industry. Often, these women can't even complete as simple a beauty task as finding foundations to match their tone, which Diop has experienced herself.
"Personally, it was always very difficult to find complexion products that match my shade." she said to Essence. "Make Up For Ever has foundation options that work for me, and everyone."
On top of that, many women with dark skin face an added layer of discrimination for their natural hue.
Fellow model Nyakim Gatwech, who's from South Sudan, recently shared a story on her Instagram page of being harassed by Uber driver for being dark skinned.
"I was [asked by] my Uber driver the other day, he said, 'Don't take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars would you bleach your skin for that amount?'" the beauty queen wrote on Instagram in late March. "I couldn't even respond I started laughing so hard."
"[Then] he said, 'So that a no' and I was like hell to the f*king yeah [that's] no, why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God [blessed] me with," she added. "[Then] he said so you look at it as a blessing?"
"You won't believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin."
But despite the negative remarks both models have faced over the years, hopefully, with big companies putting more talent with darker complexions at the forefront, these ideals can change. And Diop seems to be optimistic as well.
TERANGA Means Welcome in Wolof Life is very relaxed in Senegal. Basically, we don’t worry about many things, and it's called the country of "teranga" (welcome) where everybody cares about their neighbors. Model/Muse: Khoudia Diop, @melaniin.goddess Photographer: Joey Rosado, @islandboiphotography MakeUp Artist: Moshoodat Sanni, @moshoodat Creative Direction/Agency: The Colored Girl, @thecgirlinc Written by: Victory Jones, @srvj PR: Tori Elizabeth, @stylebytori Hair: Khoudia’s Mother or Yaay in Wolof ! #goddess #senegalese #queen #beauty #melanin #senegal #hair #blackgirlsrock #blackgirlmagic
"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 the Daily Mail back in October 2016. "The message I have for my sisters is that how you look doesn't matter as long as you feel beautiful inside."