Life Lessons

12/30/2022 12:58 AM By Lisa Anderson
Rich with History
Joi Tyler
Joi Tyler
Story by Taylor Strickland • Photos by Joshua Jacobs

Life Lessons

Former Model Values Her Many Experiences

The best lessons in life are taught through experience, and few understand that maxim more than Joi Tyler. “I come from a line of educators,” she shares. “My mom was a teacher, and my aunt retired from [College of Central Florida]. My other aunt was a librarian.”

Joi broke the family mold by developing a deep interest in fashion at a young age. “That’s what I was into. As a little girl, I was always in the mirror–fashion was everything to me,” she explains. “I was put in ISS (In School Suspension) a lot for my outfits. They weren’t revealing or anything, but I guess they weren’t ready for me.”

Though the staff at Vanguard High School may have frowned upon Joi’s sartorial ingenuity, she had plenty of support at home. “My mom was really good at focusing on what her children were capable of and fostering our talents,” she muses. “She got me started.

“I was still in high school when I was first introduced to the modeling agency,” Joi recalls. “They wanted me to travel before graduation, but my mom said, ‘No, you’re going to graduate.’ So, I took all the classes I needed and graduated a year early.

“I signed a contract with an Italian modeling agency when I was 18 and moved to Italy. That was my first traveling experience. My mom and little brother stayed with me for two weeks to get me settled, and then, that was it.”

No Good Conversations

Joi modeled from ages 18 to 25. “I was all over Europe. I lived in Paris, London, then New York. I was in four different countries a year.”

Unfortunately, Joi found modeling left little time for life outside catwalks, photoshoots, and the demands of fussy fashion designers. “I was getting tired of it,” she explains. “All you ever talked about was how you looked, how small you were, and that was the only kind of interaction I had with people. I felt like I couldn’t have [a] good conversation.

“One year, I met these college students from over there, from Carson’s College, and I was envious of their communication skills, because they had other experiences they could talk about.”

Joi decided it was time for a change. “I shaved my head,” she laughs. “I did my last shows in London, and then, I was done. I settled in New York for awhile, met my ex-husband, and then moved back to Florida.”

A Change in Perspective

Before Joi made her way back home, she made an important decision to expand her horizons even further. “I enrolled myself into Borough of Manhattan Community College,” she proudly states. “They had an African Studies program that I was excited to take, because you’re not taught that in [public] school. I did really well, so I was among 12 students chosen to go to Senegal to study how Europe underdeveloped Africa.

“The experience changed my life. Before, it was all looks, how you’re presented to people, what you have, but then, I got over there and saw how genuinely happy people are with nothing. That changed my whole perception of existence.

“These people were so rich in love and were so giving,” Joi reminisces. “It was shocking. Things we take for granted are just so special to them. I would have a regular T-shirt, and I would barter it for these beautiful leather shoes or a drum that was handcrafted. They don’t even know how special they are.

“If my life didn’t work out the way it did,” Joi contemplates, “I would probably still be over there.”

What's Important

Once back in Ocala, Joi found herself a little nonplussed. “I came home, and my mom was like, ‘You need to do something, girl.’ So, I enrolled into an X-Ray program.”

Joi quickly realized the X-Ray program wasn’t for her. “I got to spend some time in different modalities and realized I loved doing ultrasounds.

“I’m a three times registered ultrasound tech,” Joi states. “I’m registered in vascular, OB/GYN, and abdominal. I love the personal setting and the knowledge I get from my patients.”

Like many others, Joi was galvanized by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I started a body contouring business called Lipolysis Spa, where I melt fat and shift it to the lymphatic system, and the fat drains through sweat or other excretions.”

Joi’s aspirations were abruptly cut short. “I had a location for about six months, but then I got sick. I had to have surgery, so the business was put on the back burner. I still want to do it, but now, I feel like I need to get my priorities right again. I kind of took my life for granted, and what I thought was important changed.”

Despite her health scare, Joi has much to look forward to. She recently married her partner of seven years, and both have two children. “I want to spend time simplifying. I’m going to focus on mental health and preparing my children to be able to navigate this crazy world without me. That’s what is important to me now.”

As for her adventures, Joi is grateful for the experience she’s gained. “I learned more traveling than I ever did in school. Seeing how other people in the world live is so special, and that can never be taken away from me. I’ve been able to take bits and pieces of everywhere I’ve been and just apply it to my life.”
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