In the West African nation of Senegal, the “I am black and proud” movement, “Gnoul Kouk” as it’s known locally, is growing day by day.The movement, says fashion designer, show organizer and a key figure in the black fashion world, Adama Paris, is inspiring more and more young women to stand tall and be proud of their black skin, to believe that dark skin is beautiful. For someone like Paris, who has been fighting incessantly against skin lightening—especially among black models—it’s a huge deal.Paris, who started the annual Dakar Fashion Week in 2002, made headlines last year when she banned models who use skin lightening creams from participating in the event.“I’ve been fighting against the practice of skin lightening for some years, particularly among black models,” she says. “Because I never take on models that use these products, I have seen that more and more black models are stopping using them, because they love fashion and because I have constantly repeated that I think their natural look is more beautiful.”That said, though, Paris believes there’s still a lot of legwork to be done to reduce the practice of skin lightening, both in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa. Governments have a role to play, she says, in stopping what has become a serious public health issue. Ads that glorify skin lightening creams as agents of beauty must be banned. Only then is there hope for the prevailing mindset, that lighter skin is more beautiful than dark, to change.MORE: How Skin Bleaching Puts Women in Danger