Many people suffering from vitiligo, a disease that causes the loss of skin pigmentation, try to hide their skin by covering it up. One inspiring 21-year-old decided to do the opposite and use her skin as art.
Ashley Soto was diagnosed with vitiligo at 12 years old and she was bullied for her disease from a young age. After months, the vitiligo on her skin spread to about 75% of her body. She was desperate to hide her skin and feared people would stare and judge her. According to The Daily Mail, a girl at the beach saw Soto in a bikini and asked if she “showered in bleach.” The harassment forced Soto to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants every day to conceal her skin.
“I was so shocked that someone said that to me that I cried and cried, I didn’t want to have the condition anymore,” Soto told The Daily Mail. “It made me want to start hiding away from people and left me covering my skin, as I didn’t want people to make fun of me.”
Once she hit her late teens, she decided to embrace her skin. She challenged herself to walk in public every day without wearing any long-sleeved shirts. The idea inspired her to showcase her skin as art and show the world her own sense self-acceptance while teaching others to embrace the same idea.
View this post on Instagram
I get stretch marks just like everyone else regardless of if I have a skin condition or not. I go through all the same struggles you all go through that's why I preach self love so much. I don't care if I have to repeat myself in every caption to love who you are regardless if you have tiger stripes, #vitiligo, or whatever the case may be. I'll sound like a broken record each time because at least someone reminded you to appreciate and love yourself unconditionally always 🎨🌎❤
“I will continue creating different pieces of art with my skin and hope it inspires others in the process,” Soto said. “Soon I will be doing some glow in the dark markings, which will be a real challenge but it’s very exciting. Thanks to doing this I’ve learned to accept myself more than I did before.”
“I never realized how beautiful my vitiligo was until I traced it with a black marker, it really helps to bring out the different colors of my skin,” she said. “Now what others would perceive as an imperfection, I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”