A woman with a rare skin condition causing patchy, irregular skin pigmentation is being hailed for speaking out about her experience on Instagram.
Iomikoe Johnson, of Baytown, Texas, owns her own cosmetics line, Perfectly Painted Cosmetics. The business owner is also a model, and she has a skin condition called vitiligo.
Vitiligo causes irregular skin pigmentation loss; white patches appear in different places in stark contrast against darker skin areas. It’s even more noticeable for Johnson, who is black.
The cause of this progressive condition is unknown, though according to Medline, it may be linked to autoimmune health and isn’t all that uncommon throughout the world.
When Johnson was diagnosed with the condition at age 25, she says the way people treated her began to change drastically.
“They look at me weird when I’m out and about,” she told The Epoch Times. “They stare, they point, and say mean things to me.”
She says she’s been called “a spotted N-word,” asked if she has mud on her face, and asked if she was severely burned at one time.
Worse, some people question her race altogether, claiming she isn’t African American, or accusing her of wearing “blackface” or “whiteface.”
“They say I’m the definition of what mixed race is,” Johnson explained. “I’ve even had a group Photoshop my picture and tell people not to take the vaccine because it is turning white people black.”
She added that these events made her realize that society has been “brainwashed” when it comes to standards of beauty, and said people don’t realize how “the words they use can really affect someone’s self-esteem.”
But Johnson also highlighted how important it is to love yourself no matter what anyone else says.
“It doesn’t matter what they think,” she stressed. “It only matters what I feel about myself. It’s my self-esteem and I choose to love me the way I was created … Being beautiful isn’t what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside.”
Eventually, Johnson’s experience led her to speak out on Instagram.
She says her race has constantly been a topic for debate. She wants people to realize that—although it should seem obvious—vitiligo has no bearing on race. It’s literally skin deep.
The model has shared close-up photos of her face. Both cheeks are dark brown, and most of her nose. Meanwhile, the areas surrounding her eyes and mouth, and most of her forehead, are pale pink.
“It’s not contagious, it doesn’t hurt me in any way,” she said. “I’m not ashamed of who I am or how my skin looks.” She adds that she’s proud of how far she’s come in overcoming her fear of not being accepted by others.
She received words of affirmation from Instagrammers who found her words inspiring.
“I find this beautifully unique,” said one user.
“So pretty,” wrote another.
Johnson added that she is on a personal mission to inspire and empower others and that she intends to follow her purpose no matter what anyone says.
She added that it’s her personal mission to educate others and “spread positivity, peace, and love.”
Johnson isn’t the first person with vitiligo to catch the media’s attention. Michael Jackson was rumored to have lived with it himself.
The famous model Chantelle Brown-Young also has the skin condition and was even featured in Vogue Magazine.
Adds Johnson, “I want people to know that I am a human being. I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a business owner. I am somebody and I matter.”
For those who live with the same condition, or with judgment over their appearance, Johnson says to focus on living your life in positivity, not consumed with self-negativity.
“They can do anything they set their mind to,” she says. “Live life to the fullest and [refuse to] allow people to steal their joy … Set an example for others. Be kind and God will take you places you never thought you could go.”
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