Diversity is something we’re lucky to have a lot of in the UAE, with hundreds of nationalities all living amongst one another in the country’s melting-pot cities.

However not all nations are the same – nor are all industries, with the fashion and beauty worlds often accused of neglecting to feature women of colour.

However one woman is doing her best to change that (and, judging by her stratospheric rise to fame, succeeding).

 

Khoudia Diop grew up in Senegal, where she was cruelly bullied for her unique appearance.

“I was picked on by other kids when I was a bit younger because [of the darkness] of my skin tone,” the 19-year-old told The Huffington Post.

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“But this is something that is actually quite normal in Senegal. It’s not a nice feeling and I’ve had to learn to love myself more every day and tune out the negativity, which helps a lot.”

Indeed, women in the African country are routinely taking measures to lighten their naturally dark skin, with a study revealing that between 50 and 67 per cent of women in Senegal used skin-whitening products.

Nor did Diop get reassurance from the media, where she didn’t see inspirational images of women like her “until recently with women like Lupita Nyong’o”, she told People.

However the teen is bucking the trend since moving to France and then New York, where she’s become a part-time model and something of a social media star.

With more than 330,000 followers on Instagram, it’s clear that the self-titled “Melanin Goddess” is resonating with her audience.

No filters🙈 🍫@thecgirlinc #bts #blackgirlmagic @bellisima81

A photo posted by Khoudia diop (@melaniin.goddess) on

Yet that still doesn’t mean she’s immune from abuse.

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“Now even online sometimes, people will make comments,” Diop told the Daily Mail. “Growing up, I faced it by confronting the bullies. As I grew, I learned to love myself more every day, and not pay attention to the negative people.”

Diop’s stunning images and inspirational message have seen her go viral on social media in recent weeks – something she says is helping her message spread further.

“I want to inspire young girls and let them know that we are all goddesses inside and out,” she said. “I want them to know that they can do and be anything they dream of.

Meet the natural me 🌚

A photo posted by Khoudia diop (@melaniin.goddess) on

“How you look doesn’t matter as long as you feel beautiful inside.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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Images: Khoudia Diop/Instagram