Ashley Soto was 12 years old when she was diagnosed with vitiligo, a disease that causes the skin to lose pigment.
Within months of her diagnosis, the condition spread to 75 per cent of her body — leaving her suffering with crippling insecurities before even reaching her teens. In a recent interview, Soto reveals her body issues were intensified when a stranger at the beach saw her in a bikini and asked if she had “showered in bleach.”
The remark led her to start covering up, wearing only long-sleeved shirts and pants every day.
“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 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.”
But by the time the 21-year-old had reached her late teens, she decided she didn’t want to hide any longer. Instead she found ways to shift her mindset and learn to love the patterns of her skin.
Setting up little challenges for herself, in order to get more comfortable with the condition, Soto discovered the unique beauty of vitiligo.
“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.
“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.”
From there, Soto began to recreate other works of art on her body and slowly began to love her condition more and more. “Thanks to doing this I’ve learned to accept myself more than I did before,” she said.
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