Having a condition that makes you stand out is not always the best. For Iomikoe Johnson, it made her incredibly self conscious for years. When she was 25, Johnson noticed that there was a white spot on her arm and when the doctors told her what was happening she was very upset.
“I got vitiligo when I was twenty-five-years-old and I’ll never forget it, I was devastated," Johnson said. "I felt like my world had been shattered."
“My first spot was under my arm where no one could see. When I was a kid, I used to get bullied for having dark skin and now I’m two different colors, so I feared I would have to re-live that experience all over again. It was painful and devastating I even thought of taking my own life many times, but I had kids which kept me going.”
Johnson used to spend hours covering up her spots, trying to blend them into her natural skin tone, but one day her fiancé Philip helped inspire her to change how she thought about her body...
“It would take me forty-five minutes to an hour to put makeup on to cover spots and it was becoming very tiring," Johnson explained. "My fiancé told me that I didn’t need to do it anymore because he loves me no matter if I wore makeup or not.”
Johnson looked to vitiligo model Winnie Harlow, who has been proudly showing her natural skin for a long time, and thought that it was time that she do the same. “I woke up one day and I didn’t put on any makeup and since that day I haven’t worn makeup I was tired of people defining what they think is beautiful and it was my job to show them that beauty is beyond skin.”
She has become a model herself, hoping to raise awareness for the condition that caused her so much stress. “Vitiligo can appear at any time in your life and all races can get it, vitiligo is not prejudiced anyone can get it at any time at any age."
Johnson's beautiful photos will hopefully help inspire others, saying that say wants them to “embrace being different and uniquely made because god made us in his own image, don’t be ashamed to be who you are, you have a purpose.”
“I want people to be empowered by my story and for them to remove the mask of feeling judged. I want them to know that I’m cheering them on…”
Johnson's inspiring story mirrors that of a lot of people who come to accept their differences, including model Winnie Harlow, and even some younger kid who are dealing with this condition while growing up.