Vitiligo Awareness Month was in June 2021.  Despite its passing, this disease has an ongoing effect that requires consistent awareness.  Vitiligo is a disease that causes loss of skin color to occur in patches.  The skin loses its pigment cells which cause the discoloration to occur in various parts of the body. The discoloration can occur on the skin, hair and also mucous membranes.  Although vitiligo can affect anyone in the general population, it is much more visible among those with more melanin or darker skin tones. Although the skin condition can occur at any age, the average age of onset is in the mid-twenties.  Vitiligo has a prevalence rate of 0.5-2% of the general population.

For many, this disease may cause social stigmas.  Some may be unaware of the condition.  Curiosity may lead to stares, avoidance and more. Self-love and self-confidence are important factors among those with this condition.  Ignorance from the unknown can lead to changes in a person’s social environment but if you carry a high sense of self from within, you won’t be susceptible to the staring, worries or concerns of others.

For Iomikoe “The Vitiligo Goddess” Johnson, her skin condition led to her powerful self-esteem and expression through modeling.  Iomikoe is expressing herself beyond her skin condition through her modeling, entrepreneurship and brand ambassadorship.  Here’s what she shared about her journey of acceptance, beauty and Black Girl Magic:

photo by James Photography

How do you feel vitiligo has impacted your self-esteem and confidence?

“Vitiligo made me question my confidence at first. But now,Vitiligo has made me more confident in who I am. My legacy will be about strength in how I overcame the odds and did it on my own terms. My Black Girl Magic embodies strength and determination that helps me empower others through my expression of modeling and advocacy.”

What does beauty mean to you?

“Beauty means strength and being fearless.  Beauty is from within and the beauty on the outside is just a bonus.  I am confident that my beauty will change the face of beauty.”

For Kirt Thibodaux, his vitiligo is allowing him to aspire to inspire.  He is bringing awareness to the condition by sharing his story and living out loud through modeling, advocacy and more.  Here’s what he had to say about his journey:

How do you feel vitiligo has impacted your self-esteem and level of confidence?

“Honestly, in the beginning things were really rough. I have another syndrome called D.R.E.S.S. Syndrome that caused the vitiligo, along with alopecia; so trying to understand, embrace & accept the other was quite a task.  My mental wellness was really all over the place so it took some time to even recognize myself in this new skin. I knew who I was but I just couldn’t see him.  Since I currently know who I am, that really helped with my confidence; not to mention the family & tribe I have that constantly boosts my self-esteem through the roof! I more than often tell me people ‘I Thank God for my Sanity.’’

photo by Juwan James

photo by Juwan James

Describe the beginning stages of your skin condition:

My skin condition first started in June of 2017. It started off as a rash I developed from taking an acne medication called minocycline.  I would later be diagnosed with D.R.E.S.S. Syndrome. The D.R.E.S.S. syndrome is what brought on the vitiligo design. I was diagnosed with D.R.E.S.S. in July, then Alopecia in late August and finally I was diagnosed with vitiligo later that year in November of 2017. 

I could only imagine the rollercoaster of emotions that one may experience when being diagnosed.  However, patients like Iomikoe Johnson and Kirt Thibodaux give us all hope.  Some may feel self-conscious about their body shape, weight, hair or more; yet individuals like Kirt and Iomikoe continue to push past the surface to live their best life.  Both parties transformed their life after diagnosis in order to continue walking with purpose, confidence and love.  Follow Kirt’s ongoing journey online as he expresses himself through modeling as he reaches for the stars.  Connect with Iomikoe online to share in her expressive journey of realness, beauty and dreams.

Writer, C, Scott, is a mompreneur, author, educator and social worker.  Follow her on Instagram and Clubhouse as @curls_coils.  

Featured Image by James Photography