Khoudia Diop was teased for her dark skin tone when she left her native Senegal and moved to New York City.

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“At first I confronted the bullies, but eventually I learned to stay positive, tune out the negativity and love myself more each day,” the model, 19, tells PEOPLE. “This helped tremendously.”

Diop — who is featured in The “C” Girl, Inc.‘s The Colored Girl: Rebirth campaign — is now turning the tables on her bullies by embracing what makes her unique, and has given herself the nickname “Melanin Goddess.”

“[I gave myself the nickname] 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 says. “The message I have for my sisters is that how you look doesn’t matter as long as you feel beautiful inside.”

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33 thoughts on “This Girl Was Bullied For Her Skin Color. Now She’s A Badass Model – Khoudia Diop

  1. Luke Johnson says:

    She is just really dark brown. Black is not a color, it is a combination of all colors. I like her just the way she is and she does not need to change her skin tone with special cream or oil.

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