Many of us are self-conscious about our skin and the way we look. And too many of us let that hold us back. But not Ash Soto.
Meet 21-year-old Ash Soto.
At the age of 12, Ash Soto noticed a small spot on her neck. A few months later, another spot appeared. And then another. Soon after, they covered the majority of her body.
Soto was diagnosed with vitiligo, which causes patches of your skin to lose pigmentation. Now, Soto uses her body—and her condition—to create beautiful art.
It's crazy what years difference can make, right picture was before I had vitiligo – always with a smile on my face and joking around, I was super outgoing. Bottom right is when my vitiligo first started spreading and that's when the jokes started which caused me to never wear shorts or short sleeves again. I've been called cow, I even was once told I had Michael Jackson syndrome. How can an innocent girl trying to find herself take that? Both pictures on the left represent confidence, making something negative into a positive. When life gives you lemons what do you do? Make the best of it. No, I wasn't born with it, I grew into it which was the hardest thing I've ever been through. But now I look back and I'm happy that I went through it because I wouldn't be as strong as I am today 💪🏻 #selflove #vitiligo #bodypositivity 💫
In addition to the condition itself, Soto also had to deal with bullying.
Soto became especially self-conscious after a little girl asked her if she had “showered in bleach.” On other occasions, she was called “cow” and was told she “had Michael Jackson syndrome.”
“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,” Soto told the Daily Mail.
For years, she hid her condition beneath layers of clothing.
They say your body is a canvas, I'm just painted differently. Finally at a point in my life where I can say I love the skin I'm in. It's a learning experience each day but I'm getting there. If it wasn't for @sincerelyjuju I probably wouldn't have the guts to post this, so ty angel 💘 I hope this post inspires all girls to be comfortable with themselves and their bodies because everyone is beautiful and unique. You may not see it, but trust me you're special. We need more self love now a days. Accept yourself and everything else will fall into place 🌹✨ (yes, it's vitiligo and any negativity will get you blocked.)
Soto explained to A Plus, “I remember looking at girls in magazines or on social media and I would be so jealous because they had perfect skin and I didn’t.”
But not anymore.
Tried something different this time and I absolutely fell in love 🏁 seeing the different kind of art you can create with what others perceive as "imperfections" is mind blowing to me. Everytime I do #markerchronicles I fall in love more and more with what I was chosen to carry. It isn't about being black or white because we're all human, we all feel the same emotions within and we all carry hearts that's what makes us the same.
Using her body as a canvas, Soto turns herself into art, from maps to Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
The 21-year-old from Orlando, Florida calls the project “The Marker Chronicles.”
“When life gives you lemons what do you do?” Soto wrote on Instagram. “Make the best of it. No, I wasn’t born with it, I grew into it which was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through,” Soto explained. “But now I look back and I’m happy that I went through it because I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today.”
Soto wants others to “Be proud to wear YOU.”
Thinking about starting my own YouTube channel so I can connect with you angels on a different level. I try to put myself out there for you all in all my captions and I think this would be a great way for you to get to know me and actually hearing my words would get through to you more. What do you think? ⚡️🕊🌹🌈
Embracing her condition, Soto wrote on Instagram: “They say your body is a canvas, I’m just painted differently. Finally at a point in my life where I can say I love the skin I’m in. It’s a learning experience each day but I’m getting there.”
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 🎨🌎❤
“The only person that has to accept you and love you is you.”