In recent years, there’s been an exciting, invigorating, and totally necessary movement in body positivity — and that includes skin conditions. Florida woman Ashley Soto is embracing hers by creating body art using her vitiligo patches, and the results are absolutely amazing.
21-year-old Ashley Soto has been trying for the past nine years to hide as much of her skin as possible. When she was born, she had no reason to be this self-conscious. The condition only began when she was 12.
A pale patch of skin appeared on Soto’s skin at that time. It had just been a small mark on her neck. After a year, these patches had spread over 75% of her body.
Soto went to see the doctor then, who diagnosed her with vitiligo, a skin condition where the cells stop producing skin pigment. The patient then ends up with pale blotches all over their body.
For Soto, the problem is worst on her legs. 80% of her skin pigmentation there has disappeared, which has since prompted Soto to try to hide as much of her skin as possible.
Her self-consciousness only increased when a little girl approached her on a beach, asking if she’d “taken a shower in bleach.”
“I was so shocked that someone said that to me that I cried and cried, I didn’t want to have the condition any more,” Soto said. “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.”
After several years of wearing long sleeves and long pants everywhere she went though, Soto became sick and tired of her own behavior.
She no longer wanted her confidence and potential to be limited by her skin, so she set out to change her mentality. Soto set herself small, daily challenges to show more and more of her skin in public, so she could get comfortable with the feeling and not feel affected by everyone’s gazes.
When Soto finally found security in her body, she decided to take her confidence a step forward. She wouldn’t just show her skin in public – she wanted to showcase it.
Soto realized that the patterns on her skin were actually quite beautiful after she traced them with black marker, so she did so.
“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,” Soto explained. “I was always trying to find a way to look at my skin in a positive light, I couldn’t do that before starting this. Now what others would perceive as an imperfection I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”
When Soto realized the beauty she could create with her own body, she decided to take it a step further: she covered her body in body art, painting scenes and even recreating Van Gogh’s Starry Night across her body.
“Thanks to doing this I’ve learned to accept myself more than I did before,” she said. You can see more of her work on Instagram.