Ash Soto was diagnosed with vitiligo when she was 12. As her vitiligo started spreading, she began to feel ashamed of her skin, especially after a little girl asked her if she had showered in bleach. Now the 21-year-old not only isn’t ashamed, but she embraces her skin.
In her late teens, Soto decided she wouldn’t let her skin hold her back anymore, so she started setting herself daily challenges like walking in public without a long sleeve shirt. Eventually, the challenges led to Soto turning her body into beautiful art. “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 said to Daily Mail. Now, she has made her body look like so many different art pieces, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and she’s not stopping! “Now what others would perceive as an imperfection I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”
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Like many who suffer from the social stigma of vitiligo, Soto covered up in pants and long-sleeved shirts, as she struggled to cope with her changing appearance. Noticing she couldn’t find any similar role models in magazines or on social media, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
At first, her Instagram account just showed off her impressive makeup skills, while she hid her vitiligo. But, in May 2016, she decided to make a change. After posting a photo that revealed her condition, she was overwhelmed by the support she received, which has led to bigger projects.
Now, she uses her body as a canvas. She traces lines that highlight her skin and snaps sultry selfies that demonstrate her newfound self-love. In her first series The Marker Chronicles, her body morphs into something like a world map.
“I am my own experiment, I am my own work of art,” is Soto’s philosophy. And she’s continued to carry this out through more and more elaborate body painting.”I want to continue to bring awareness to vitiligo and the importance of body positivity. I hope to continue doing what I’m doing now which is inspiring others to accept themselves for who they are.”