“Beauty is beyond skin deep,” says Iomikoe Johnson, whose decision to not hide who she is has not only made her successful, but has also moved thousands of people. Her condition is called vitiligo and because of it, she has endured a lot of negativity and anxiety. But with the help and support of her fiancé, children, and family, this mother has grown comfortable and confident in her own skin. And since then, she’s made it her mission to empower others.
Vitiligo is a condition in which pigment cells die and cause the color of the skin to lose its pigment, in effect turning the area white. The condition is considered relatively common and it cannot be cured.Iomikoe has learned to accept this and embrace her skin and herself, “I want the world to see my art. I’m walking art, human art.” she says.
Iomikoe, now 38, developed vitiligo when she was 25 and at the time she didn’t know what it was. When she first noticed the initial white spots on her arm, she thought it was cancer, but when the patches inexplicably spread to other areas of her body she realized it was something else entirely. During this period of her life she was bullied over her appearance, called a “cow” and “Dalmatian” by some, while strangers on the street stared at her, children were scared to approach her, and there were even those that would refuse to shake her hand altogether.
These negative interactions affected her badly and at the time she would not come out of her home without spending hours applying make-up over the sections of her body that were affected in order to be comfortable enough to step outside. In addition to make-up, she would also make use of long sleeve clothing so she wouldn’t get discriminated against for her appearance.
Change and acceptance came into her life when she met her fiancé who told her that he loved her with or without the make-up. It was then that she decided to embrace herself and make a conscious effort to stop hiding behind foundation and concealer.
She says that he was just like, “If you’re not gonna wear makeup with me at home, then you don’t need to wear it out in the world, like, for everybody else to see… you’re beautiful and if they don’t like it then that’s on them.”
As she grew in confidence and could rely on her family for support, Iomikoe looked to Canadian model and spokesperson, Winnie Harlow, for inspiration because she also has vitiligo.
Today Iomikoe is involved in multiple projects, including a book she wrote (The Spotted Girl Who Empowered the World), starring in an upcoming movie, creating a clothing line (My Confidence is Contagious), and her modeling career, that she is using to spread her message and inspire everyone with vitiligo.
“I want people to know that beauty starts from within. If I can do it, so can you, believe in yourself and love the skin you’re in.”
Iomikoe Johnson’s story is inspirational, moving, and carries a powerful and positive message, a message of self-love, acceptance, and confidence and that’s what we are all about! Do you personally know anyone who has vitiligo? We’d love to read your stories, feel free to share them with us.