ash soto vitiligo body art

The Inspiring Reason This Woman Turns Her Vitiligo Into Body Art

Remember when Meryl Streep famously told her peers at the Golden Globes how her late friend, actress Carrie Fisher, once advised her to “take your broken heart, make it into art”? Well that’s exactly what one student from Orlando, Florida is doing.

After being bullied for her vitiligo, a rare skin condition that causes loss of pigmentation in skin in patches, 21-year-old Ash Soto decided to embrace her disorder by turning it into 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 colours of my skin,” Soto told the Daily Mail, recalling how she would previously try to hide her white spots by wearing long-sleeve tees and pants every day. “Now what others would perceive as an imperfection I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before.”

Soto’s body art, which she calls “The Marker Chronicles,” includes maps, nature scenes and even Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting, and is meant to prove “we are all art.” She tells aplus.com the project has “been a way to show that what others might perceive as your flaws are actually what makes you beautiful and sets you apart from the rest.”

Soto first revealed her vitiligo to the world in May 2016, sharing a photo of herself, uncovered, for the first time. “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,” she captioned the image.

“The thought of sharing my whole self on social media was a paralyzing one. We have all experienced or seen how cruel people can be, especially behind the safety of a keyboard,” Soto told aplus.com. “It took me a long time to share my true self. I decided to post when I felt like I was strong enough and mentally able to handle the reaction, whichever way I was meant to receive it.”

But after the positive response she received, she went on to post more images of her bare skin. She hopes that by continuing to create different pieces of body art, it will inspire others to be accepting of themselves.

“The only person that has to accept you and love you is you. The standards of beauty in our society are unattainable to most of us. These standards should not be your goal, but instead the acceptance of the things that make you imperfect should be your main focus. Self love is the best love always remember that,” she says.

Check out more of Ash’s incredible works of body art below.