During an interview with CNN Films/Great Big Story, the 19-year-old model revealed that she had a rough time adjusting after moving to Paris at age 15. She said she suffered racially charged taunting and bullying from her peers that sometimes got so bad that she stopped going to school twice.
“They would call me ‘darkie,’ ‘daughter of the night’ and all kinds of names,” Diop recalls. “I was ashamed of being dark.”
Diop said that many of her family members had similar battles over skin color and turned to skin bleaching. She remembered instances when her cousins would try to convince her to use skin-lightening products.
“I have a lot of cousins that use skin-bleaching products. Since I was around 13, 12, they started telling me, ‘Why don’t you use this [bleaching product]? Why you wanna be this dark?’ she says.
Her cousins hated their skin color, but she did not. According to the model, they felt light skin signified wealth and beauty, while dark skin meant poor and ugly. But having herself overcome those negative sentiments, Diop said she plans to be instrumental in changing other people’s perception of darker skin tones.
“My favorite part is inspiring the younger [children] because I feel when they grow up, they can teach other kids,” she says, “and the view of beauty can totally change from that.”