Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

'The Vitiligo Goddess' Becomes Model Despite Haters Calling Her 'Dalmation'

We never know how our lives will unfold and what challenges we'll face along the way. But the difference between a tragic tale with an ending we shudder to hear and a story that truly inspires us comes down to how people face those challenges.

And although the problems that one Louisiana model dealt with haven't exactly gone away, it seems like a safe bet that she'll find a way to rise above them.

When 38-year-old Iomikoe Johnson was 25, she noticed a small patch of white skin under her arm.

As The Daily Mail reported, she initially worried that she had cancer, but this turned out to be a skin condition known as vitiligo.

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitiligo can arise when pigment-producing cells either die or stop producing melanin. This could possibly have to do with the immune system mistaking these cells for a threat and attacking them.

Johnson said she was taunted for having dark skin as a child, so she was scared her condition would attract more bullying.

Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

Unfortunately, it would appear those fears were well-founded, as she experienced rude and often racist comments, as well as people who refused to shake her hand.

According to The Sun, she said, "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."

These experiences led her to put on makeup for an hour before she went outside.

Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

Sadly, the emotional distress also resulted in suicidal thoughts on many occasions, but she said was able to keep those thoughts from escalating because of her children.

However, she was eventually inspired to embrace her vitiligo and pursue a modelling career.

Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

A big part of this change was inspired by the support of her fiancé, Philip, who encouraged her to stop trying to hide her skin.

As she told The Daily Mail, "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."

She was also inspired to start loving her skin by Canadian model Winnie Harlow, who also lives with vitiligo.

Instagram | @winnieharlow

As Johnson put it, "She has the same skin disease as me and she embraced her beauty so I thought why shouldn't I do the same."

When she decided to stop wearing the makeup and try a new career path, her family was 100% behind it.

Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

As she told The Sun, "They have been so amazing, they’re so proud of me. My mom has some of my modelling pictures up in her home and she brags about me every chance she gets."

As a model, she now wants to world to see her body as walking, human art.

Instagram | @iomikoejohnson

As The Sun reported, she's earned the nickname "Vitiligo Goddess" since she started doing this and her 21-year-old daughter, Shianna, and 19-year-old daughter, Amaya, are already following in her footsteps.

She said, "They tell me, ‘if you can do it mom, so can we’ and they’re so beautiful on the inside and out."

She also hopes to redefine beauty ideals and inspire young girls living with vitiligo to recognize their own beauty as Winnie Harlow did for her.

Instagram | iomikoejohnson

As she said, “You can get vitiligo regardless of age, race or gender, at any time of your life. Those words hurt me as an adult, I can only imagine how they would hurt a child or teenager."

h/t: The Daily Mail

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