Journalist and former Miss Colombia contender Lina María Hurtado recently opened up about lightening her skin after receiving racist comments about her skin color from critics on social media.

On Tuesday, Hurtado revealed to Revista Semana that she tried to use Clorox bleach to brighten her skin as a child, Remezcla reported.

“I did it secretly from my parents. And I used it because it’s supposed to be a whitener and being white was good,” she said. “As a girl and in the midst of how illogical it could be, I applied it and rubbed it in. And I did a lot of damage to my skin.”

The Colombian native isn’t the only Afro-Latina who experienced racism and colorism in Latin America. Discrimination based on skin color is a form of prejudice primarily found in Spanish-speaking countries. According to the Minority Rights Group, Afro-Colombians comprise around 10% of the country’s population.

While Black communities exist across the country, there is minimal representation when it comes to beauty pageants. In 2021, Vanessa Mendoza was the first Afro Latina crowned Miss Colombia in the competition, per Remezcla.

Hurtado remains vocal about how Colombia and other parts of Latin America perceive Black women. There is a misperception of what many deem as beautiful regarding women from Spanish-speaking countries. However, Hurtado hopes her thoughts on racism “inspire other women” to call out racial discrimination.

During the interview, Hurtado said she became a social advocate to address these issues in her native country. She also plans to launch a skincare line to encourage other Black women to “love your own skin.”

Hurtado’s childhood experiences encouraged other women to speak on the issues they faced.

“This is a subject that needs to be talked about,” Hurtado said, adding, “This is evidence of how racism becomes a public health problem.”

Hurtado was a finalist in the Miss Colombia 2023 pageant. Hola! reported that Camila Avela was crowned the prestigious honor Saturday night in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Users on X, formerly known as Twitter, criticized Hurtado’s skin color and suggested she’d be a better fit running for Miss Africa.

Meanwhile, one user praised Hurtado for addressing this issue as a form of “women empowerment.”

Watch the entire interview below: