A 21-year-old student from Orlando, Florida, Ashley Soto, has faced much negativity due to her visual vitiligo patches all over her body. Due to being consistently bullied over her appearance, the young adult decided to transform her imperfections into beauty by turning her discoloured patches into artwork.
Vitiligo is a condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause. Soto was diagnosed with the skin disease at age 12. What started out as minor skin discoloration, spread across Soto’s body giving her skin a patchy appearance.
When Soto was young, she never really paid attention to her skin colour difference until she became a teenager. People would ask her questions about her skin that would make her extremely self-conscious about her discoloration. Self-hate really set in when Soto went tanning on a beach and a young girl approached her asking if she bathed herself in bleach to make her skin look like that. Soto told US magazine, “I was so shocked that someone said that to me that I cried and cried. I didn’t want to have the condition anymore. 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.”
This incident caused the young woman to wear long sleeve tops and pants when in public in an attempt to hide her skin deficiencies. Thankfully, as Soto matured, she started to realize the beauty of her unique body.
“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.
The artist discovered the beautiful body artwork she could create by incorporating her vitiligo patches. So far, she’s painted The Starry Night by Van Gogh, a world map, and a floral scene on her body. These artworks have given Soto a piece of mind in her journey to attain complete self-love and social acceptance of herself. She has become a prime example of how differences and imperfections should be looked upon as beautiful rather than mistakes that should be hidden. Soto said, “I will continue creating different pieces of art with my skin and hope it inspires others in the process.”