“Everyone, including her own family, hated her because of her very dark skin. Now, 20 years later, these people who hated her regret their actions a lot. Kia Diop has a skin color that you don’t often see in films, fashion, or magazines. The beautiful model from Sagal always has a hard time coming up with words to describe it. Her skin is so dark that it almost seems blue.
Cudia went through really tough times when she was growing up just because of her very dark skin tone. People hated her and were very mean to her because their idea of beauty was all about having lighter skin. She had to deal with bullying from both her neighbors and schoolmates. Imagine how hard it must have been for her to feel good about herself when others were so unkind. This made it difficult for Cudia to accept and love her special and beautiful dark skin.
Coua was born in Sagal on the last day of 1996 with an unusually dark skin tone. When she was born, her parents and the doctors were all very surprised. Even as a baby, she was really dark, much darker than all her friends and family. Only her elder brother had a similar skin tone. But while her very dark skin tone is unusual in the world of modeling, it is not a strange sight in her birth country, Sagal. This is because people from West African countries like Sagal and the islands of Micronesia have some of the darkest skin tones in the world. Because the sun is very hot in countries near the Equator, the dark pigment melanin is meant to protect the skin from UV rays.
Yet, while her beautiful dark complexion is quite common in her homeland of Sagal, some people failed to appreciate its beauty. Soon, Kia began to face a challenge that seemed unimaginable – teasing and bullying because of her skin tone. As a child, Cy endured hurtful comments that made her question her self-worth. People, including kids her age, were not nice to her because of her skin color.
When she enrolled in school, the bullying and the teasing got worse. The main reason why anyone is ever bullied in school is because they are different from everyone else, and one look at CIA made her immediately stand out. The bullies at school gave her many nicknames, but the ones she remembered the most are ‘and daughter of the night.’ These names really hurt Kia and they made her feel really sad. It seemed like everyone around her just didn’t understand how wonderful her unique skin was.
Despite being intelligent, she was rejected or ignored for any opportunity to represent her school because of her complexion. Even Kia’s own family members did not help matters. In fact, they encouraged CIA to do something about her natural skin. Once, one of her cousins asked her, ‘Why do you want to be that dark?’ She then recommended that Kia try some skin lightening creams. Despite the fact that rich dark skin is common in Sagal, most people prefer white skin tones. Almost everyone wants to be lighter. To get light skin, a lot of people in Sagal use skin lightening products that are passed off as beauty products.
Because of the constant pressure from her cousins, Kia wanted to try these skin lightening creams at the time because she felt really embarrassed being dark. But her elder sister came through for her. Her sister told her not to try those products because her skin was unique and beautiful. Even though it was tough, her sister helped her see that her dark skin was something to be proud of and that she did not need to change a thing.
When CIA took her sister’s advice and refused to tamper with her skin, her cousins began to make fun of her whenever she passed by. They would murmur snide comments, even saying that she made use of black shoe polish as her face cream at night. They joked they wouldn’t be able to find her unless she showed her teeth. The teasing took a toll on her, but little did the bullies know that they were planting the seeds of resilience in her spirit.
Despite the hardships, Kia found her inspiration in the midst of the darkness that surrounded her. She decided that she wouldn’t let the negativity define her. Growing up, Coua embarked on a journey of self-discovery, learning to love the unique features that made her who she was. The experiences of being teased became the stepping stones towards becoming a better version of herself. Each hurtful word became a lesson, teaching her to find things to love about herself and to celebrate her individuality. She now knew that her skin made her unique.
One day, as CIA was heading home from school in Sagal, she found herself surrounded by the same group of bullies who always made fun of her for having dark skin. They started teasing. Despite feeling hurt, Kia decided she had had enough. With newfound courage, she turned to face her bullies and calmly told them that their words were hurtful and unnecessary. She explained that everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way, including her with her beautiful dark skin. This unexpected response caught the bullies off guard, and for the first time, Kura stood up for herself, refusing to let their negativity bring her down.
Buoyed by her newfound courage after standing up to the bullies on her way home, Koua decided it was time to address another source of negativity in her life – her cousins. As she entered her home, she took a deep breath and went to where her older cousins were sitting. With a calm but firm tone, CIA expressed how the constant teasing and pressure had hurt her and made her feel uncomfortable about her own skin. She told them firmly that she believed that her dark skin was unique and beautiful, and she didn’t want to change it. So using skin lightening products went against her desire to embrace her natural beauty. This wasn’t an angry confrontation but rather a firm assertion of self-worth.
Her cousins, taken aback by Kia’s newfound confidence, began to realize the negative impact their words had on the young teenager. But it didn’t stop them; instead, they now hated her even more. Yet, the confrontation marked the turning point for CIA. From that day forward, she began to tune out the negativity and focus on building her self-confidence. Although the bullies didn’t change overnight, CIA’s determination to love herself despite their taunts set her on a path towards self-love and resilience.
Over the years, she learned to love herself more and more every day and stopped letting negative people and their comments bring her down. Her experience became a stepping stone in her journey to embrace her uniqueness. Kia’s determination to accept herself the way she was marked a turning point in her journey towards unexpected greatness.
When Kia was 15, she left Sagol and moved to Paris. The decision to relocate was primarily motivated by educational opportunities and the desire for a better future. Paris, with its renowned educational institutions, provided Kia with an opportunity to begin a new chapter in her young life. Yet, the move was not without challenges, and soon enough, Kia came face to face with full-blown racism. Being in a new place, far away from her familiar surroundings, made her more vulnerable to the negativity that stems from prejudice. People around her, who were unfamiliar with her background, made hurtful comments about her dark skin. This gradually created an environment that could have easily crushed her spirit.
It was really tough for her because some people didn’t understand or appreciate the beauty of her dark skin. Yet, even as Cy experienced racism, she decided not to let the negativity affect her. This was not the first time she was treated differently or badly because of her skin tone. Instead of getting upset about the mean comments, she chose to ignore them. She refused to let those unkind words and stares bother her. It was a big decision for Coua because it helped her feel better about herself.
This part of CIA’s journey shows her strength and determination to rise above the challenges she faced in her new life in Paris. While CIA was living in Paris during her high school days, something really special happened. People started noticing her exceptional skin for what it was – a beautiful feature. Many suggested that she should become a model. It wasn’t just one or two people; it happened repeatedly. Some photographers even approached her and expressed a strong interest in taking her pictures. They saw something unique and beautiful in her dark skin.
However, despite these exciting suggestions and opportunities, Kia was hesitant. She was just 15 and still in high school. All she wanted was to focus on getting her education first. The idea of becoming a model scared her because she didn’t know much about it or what to expect. It was all new and unfamiliar territory for her. There was one specific instance that stood out during this time. A friendly scout who looked for potential models approached Kia when she was heading to the library. With enthusiasm, the scout was thrilled to meet her and expressed how much she admired her look. However, feeling overwhelmed and unsure, Kia didn’t say a word. Instead, she froze and ran off without responding, leaving the scout bewildered.
This moment reflected CIA’s uncertainty about stepping into the world of modeling. She never knew that it was the path that would eventually become a significant chapter in her life. Even though her friends and everybody she knew were telling her, ‘Why not?’ Koua still stayed away from modeling. But one fateful day, her mind changed forever.
Kia was on a holiday trip to Italy when she had a moment that changed the way she saw herself. As she walked down the streets of Parma, she happened upon a big mirror. When she looked into it, something extraordinary happened. Coua saw herself among a lot of light-skinned European people, and it hit her – her rich dark skin was truly different yet amazing.
In that moment of self-reflection, she realized the beauty in her uniqueness. This experience in Italy was a turning point for Koua. It helped her understand why different people, including modeling scouts, would stop her on the streets and suggest that she should become a model. Seeing herself amidst the diverse crowd made her appreciate the distinctiveness of her dark skin. It was like a light bulb turning on, helping her embrace the idea that she had something special to offer to the world of modeling.
This revelation was what finally led her to become the celebrated model she is today. So, she decided to go into modeling, not just for herself, but because she wanted to inspire girls like herself. This meant a lot to her because when she was younger, she didn’t have any inspiration to like the skin she was in. So, that was how CIA finally ventured into modeling.
In 2016, she moved to New York City to attend college and major in business. In 2017, she appeared in an advertising campaign for the French cosmetics brand Makeup Forever. Koua nicknamed herself the ‘melanin goddess,’ alluding to her dark black skin to express pride in her appearance. Her skin was not only her proudest asset but what would also make her an overnight social media sensation.
In 2016, The Colored Girl: The Colored Girl Rebirth was launched. The campaign, which was led by the creative agency The Colored Girl, was dedicated to promoting diverse perceptions of beauty in the fashion industry. The fashion industry has often been criticized for its lack of diversity, so this was a campaign that aimed to inspire and empower women of color worldwide. The campaign included cruelty-free makeup, hair products, and nail polish from sponsors.
The co-founders of the campaign, Victory and Tor, first contacted CIA via social media and asked her to participate in the campaign. Rebirth. Kia was familiar with their previous work, and their entire portfolio is dedicated to celebrating diversity. The co-founders shared the joint goal to inspire, empower, and uplift women of color worldwide. She was excited when they asked her to be a part of something so positive. Kia, who was then 19 years old, agreed, and she was featured in the campaign. In August of that year, she posed with black women of all shades to challenge society’s beauty standards.
As someone who had been bullied for her dark skin tone throughout her life, she felt happy at such a huge opportunity to showcase and celebrate her skin. The images from the campaign went viral online, and they shot Kura right into the social media stratosphere. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that the young model was even moved to tears. Her pride in her skin inspired hundreds of thousands of women to follow her on Instagram, where she posts photos of herself using the hashtags #MelaninPoppin and #BlackGirlMagic. And just like that, she went from 300 to 350,000 followers on Instagram in only 2 days.
For The Colored Girl, celebrating diverse talents was their main message. The group’s co-founder, Victory Jones, strongly believed that little black girls needed to see that just by being themselves, they were equal. After the release of the campaign, Kia began working very closely with their agency. She loved working with them because what they represented and being a part of their cause made sense and felt right. As a full-time model who first made her mark in Paris before moving to New York, Kia’s sudden online fame is a hopeful sign for an industry often criticized for its lack of diversity. According to a diversity report by The Fashion Spot, only around a quarter of the women that strut the catwalks of the industry’s largest events, including New York Fashion Week, are models of color.
Yet, Kia says it is not just her dark complexion that makes working as a colored model challenging, but also her hair. Her melanin-rich skin tone can always be a challenge, but so can her African hair. Sometimes it’s something small, like a makeup artist not having the right shade for her skin color or the right tools to handle her hair.
Today, Kia Diop is a 27-year-old Sagalese model, and her net worth is 30 million. CIA serves as an awesome example that if you can get through grade school while being bullied, things will be so much better as an adult. Even though she is occasionally bullied online, for the most part, she’s celebrated for being unique and beautiful. Now she’s working with our agency to find ways to empower and bring dark-skinned girls to the catwalk. To her, the majority of the industry has not fully embraced the idea of diversity. The majority of the fashion industry is run by people who adhere to certain restrictive beauty ideals, despite the fact that the majority of the world does not look that way. More women of color need to be seen as beautiful, chosen, booked, cast, and shown in fashion shows.
Kura has come a long way from being that little dark-skinned girl who was hated by everyone. Today, 20 years later, those people who hated bher now regret it a lot. Kura started modeling at the young age of 17, and within 2 years, she had become a famous supermodel. She laughs at the bullies and their silly beauty standards because she currently has over 463,000 Instagram followers, and she is still rapidly gaining popularity.
When she traveled back to Sagal, many of her former bullies were living ordinary lives as ordinary people, but she was rich and famous. Kia’s message for any girl is that how they look doesn’t matter as long as they feel beautiful inside. Her focus is especially on African women because she feels they are the most vulnerable. In her home country of Sagal, so many women struggle to feel comfortable in their own skin. Everyone there wants to be light; research even shows that 52 to 67% of the Sagalese population use skin lightening products on their skin.
To CIA, it’s something that African women need more education about. Being dark is something they don’t need to change. Beauty is not what’s outside but who you are; what’s inside is your true essence, and beauty comes from within. With this, Kia uses social media as a tool to inspire people to embrace their differences. In her words, ‘If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.’