By Rebecca Drew
THIS SEXY grandma and model has been cruelly called a ‘dalmatian’ online and a ‘spotted N-word’ by a man in the street because of her vitiligo that is slowly turning her COMPLETELY WHITE but has now written a book to inspire young girls with the same condition.
Model, author, actress and business owner, Iomikoe ‘The Vitiligo Goddess’ Johnson (38) from Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA, was 25 when her skin started to develop white patches under her arm before spreading across the rest of her body.
Over the years, Iomikoe has been the subject of racist jokes, people saying that she isn’t black and has even been labelled a ‘dalmatian’ by trolls online. Iomikoe, who is a mum-of-four and grandmother-of-three has risen above these comments and uses them as an example of how not to treat others and has launched a successful modelling career.
It is Iomikoe’s passion to help other young girls living with vitiligo and to give them a positive and real-life role model to look up to, after only having supermodel, Winnie Harlow to look up to herself when she was coming to terms with her skin condition and has been working hard to redefine beauty.
She has written a book, The Spotted Girl Who Empowered the World, which will be available to pre-order on Amazon in March this year to help other young girls with vitiligo to confront their insecurities head on so that their confidence can grow despite what social media or the internet dictates as being beautiful.
It’s not just girls with vitiligo that Iomikoe hopes to inspire but she has been empowering her own daughters, Shianna (21) and Amaya (19) who have both started modelling.
“Some of the comments I have received have been flat out disrespectful people have called me a cow, a dalmatian and they have made racist jokes saying that because I am turning white, my credit would be good now,” said Iomikoe.
“Others have made outrageous comments saying I’m not black and while I was out for Mardi Gras last year a man call me a spotted N-word whilst I was out with my grandson, children and cousin.
“I am inspiring others who look like me, who are different like me to love the skin they’re in no matter what stupid people have to say and I thought about the younger generation who have vitiligo because you can get vitiligo regardless of age, race or gender, at any time of your life.
“I could only imagine if those words hurt me as an adult, how they would hurt a child or teenager but thank god I’m secure in who I am and I’m confident in who I am and I have a support system who have built me up to know my worth but not every person has that. So I wrote a book, it talks about a young girl who got vitiligo in her freshman year of going to high school.
“The story is about a young girl who not only has to deal with that but she now has to face the fact that she has vitiligo and there is no cure but she also has to deal with the fact that she’s a teenager and young woman living in a society that defines the standard of beauty by having the perfect body.
“When I first started my journey, I didn’t have anyone to relate to except for Winnie Harlow and she’s a super model, I want to help them heal. I want to teach them to accept that they are different and just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful, different is beautiful.
“I want to help them find the beauty within themselves and help them find the healing within themselves, I want to teach them to acknowledge, accept and then heal and that they can do anything they set their minds to and that their true power lies within.
“Vitiligo is not a curse, it’s a gift to show society that no one race is better than the other and that God made everything beautiful.
“The freaking internet is a curse and a gift, a lot of actresses’ and musicians’ and models’ photos are photoshopped and they’re giving a false sense of what the normal human body looks like, so these younger girls are wanting to look like them and that isn’t even realistic because they don’t even look like that in real life.
“There are all these makeup blogs and YouTube bloggers that are showing girls how to put on makeup but they’re piling it on. Makeup is supposed to enhance your beauty not make you look like a whole different person, what’s wrong with natural beauty?”
Iomikoe’s children, grandchildren and fiancé, Phillip, have been there throughout her journey to self-acceptance and are so proud of how she is using her experience with vitiligo to help others.
Around one percent of the world’s population or around 50-million people have vitiligo. Iomikoe has non-stop segmental vitiligo which has turned into universal vitiligo which will eventually see her body turn completely white.
Iomikoe spoke out about how her family have supported her, how her daughters have followed in her footsteps and why it’s important for young people to talk openly about their insecurities.
“They [family] have been so amazing. They’re so proud of me and tell me every time I accomplish something. My mum has some of my modelling pictures up in her home and she brags every chance she gets,” she said.
“My daughters have followed in my footsteps and are modelling as well which makes me so proud. It makes my heart smile to see them follow in my footsteps.
“I tell them both all the time, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. They tell me; ‘if you can do it mum, so can we’ and they’re so beautiful on the inside and out with beautiful hearts I teach them to set examples for others.
“I inspired them to follow their dreams and walk into their purpose.
“It’s better to release your emotions than bottle them in, once you release your fears, you can face your truth and get the help you may need. Help from family, friends, counsellors, teachers and maybe even coaches, whatever is best for you, and then you can begin your healing.”
Lastly, Iomikoe shared her words of advice to others.
“First I want people to know that they are painted with a purpose and that beauty starts from within, you may face obstacles along your journey to self-confidence and self-love but it’s your journey, take your time,” she added.
“Don’t allow people to place their fears on to you, find your peace within you and your family or whoever you seek comfort in. The key to your healing is to acknowledge and heal.
“Once you’ve reached that place, lend a helping hand and a helping heart to someone else that might be struggling and continue to spread the love and healing.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/vitiligogoddess and pre-order Iomikoe’s book here: