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JoAni Johnson

Source: Listen To Your Moms Campaign / Vaseline

There are certain things I hope I won’t care about when I reach a certain age: student loans (because I’ll have paid them off); gray hair (because, well, it’s inevitable); and social media (because who needs that kind of negativity in their life?). When it comes to the latter two, JoAni Johnson gives me hope, though the model and self-proclaimed “ageless” beauty admitted dealing with both has been a process.

Johnson began garnering the Internet — and thus the world’s — attention when she appeared in a video on aging with grace for Allure magazine that went viral in 2016. The 5’4″ stunner followed that frenzy up by making her debut on the runway at 65 year’s old, and when she appeared in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty campaign earlier this year she was a certified hit. Sadly, with all good things comes a hint of negativity, and 68-year-old Johnson isn’t immune to Social Media’s vitriol or the effect it can have on you.

“It is mind boggling to me when these things come out, my biggest interest is in the comments,” Johnson told me. “I gotta go through and read all the comments, like why? And the only ones that really capture my eye are the negative ones because it’s natural. I guess, it’s almost like, this to me, is a world that I never imagined. I pinch myself. If I get a negative comment, I have started to be able to get through them. At first it was hard because no one likes negativity, but, just like everything else, nothing is perfect. There is nobody on this planet that is perfect.”

Johnson, however, is perfect for Vaseline’s newest campaign, #ListenToYourMoms. The mother of two stars in the ad for the brand which also features Brandi Harvey and her mother Marcia. And just like us, Johnson grew up around a group of women who considered Vaseline a staple of their beauty routine.


“My biggest influencers were my great aunts. They were the matriarchs of the family. They acted as the grandmother figures. I just watched them and their beauty routines and how they took care of themselves and their skin and I would be fascinated,” the Harlem native shared. “My great aunt had a mirror vanity with the gold on the side and then she had the silver hairbrush and everything was kept in its place. The bottle of perfume and then she had her Vaseline — the things she would use on a regular basis. As a little girl, that was off limits to you. But you just admired how she enjoyed giving herself that gift of taking care of her skin.”

Johnson said she mimicked her aunts’ beauty routines and passed on similar practices to her daughters. But when it comes to being comfortable in her skin, Johnson wasn’t always the self-assured woman she is now. In fact, though she considers herself “ageless,” she admitted there was a time she struggled with the aging process.

“That was when my hair started to turn gray. The story is I was with a boss and he made a comment, ‘oh you’re starting to get gray hair,’ and I went into a panic. That was in a very different time when I was in the fashion industry. I was not doing fashion like this. I was in more of a design capacity. To be a woman in that industry and to be having graying hair — your time is going to be cut short. For me, that was like his message telling me I needed to do something about it.”

JoAni Johnson

Source: Listen To Your Moms Campaign / Vaseline

And Johnson did, until her husband-to-be encouraged her to let the aging process happen naturally. “I was bleaching it and my hair was in such bad condition that he said you’ve gotta do something and get rid of that because it’s not very attractive. We were dating at the time so, you know, I took the hint. I wasn’t silly. I had an interest. I could make that change.”

Now Johnson is known for her flowing gray locks and the womanly confidence we all strive to present to the world each day. When asked what advice she’d give other women who struggle with self-confidence, Johnson informed me she doesn’t give advice, but she may make a suggestion. And this is hers:

“Each and every one of us has been blessed with beauty. It’s about finding it and loving one’s self. I know it’s tough because I was not always like this. This is a work in progress and it still is.”

Cautioning against unreal beauty standards and expectations of ourselves, she added, “I don’t wake up every day and look in the mirror and say I’m beautiful. It doesn’t happen that way. Most of the time I try not to look. I splash some water on my face, put on my Vaseline, do my massage, and then I’m out.”

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