Ashley Soto, 21, may have vitiligo, but she isn't letting the bullies who once taunted her stop her from feeling beautiful.
Diagnosed at 12, the condition quickly spread across her body. And after being asked if she "showered in bleach" while at the beach, Soto became self-conscious and only wore long-sleeved shirts and pants afterwards.
Paint chronicles 🎨 It was fun being her canvas. Everyone is art, not everyone sees it but with time you will. Confidence doesn't happen with a switch it takes time and you can get there if you just start believing it. Believe you are beautiful. Believe you're worth it. Believe that those quirks that make you who you are is what makes you different. Remember to always stay #bodypositive 🦋
"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 shared with the Daily Mail on Monday. "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 once she got to her late teens, the young woman knew it was time to begin her self-love journey.
Using her knack for art, the Florida resident began drawing on herself to help embrace, and eventually love, the skin she's in.
"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," 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."
I accidentally deleted this picture while going through my feed, I'm actually so upset right now that I can't recover it, but this was #markerchronicles part 2 🖊 remember it doesn't matter what color you are, we're all the same on the inside, we're all equal. Don't let your skin tone define you, it's who you are on the inside that matters ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏿 Black, white, or whatever skin tone you may have we are ALL BEAUTIFUL 🌎
From there, the student drew a world map on her body and even painted The Starry Night by Van Gogh.
And despite the mean comments she's received in the past, with more than 81,000 followers on Instagram alone, it seems as though many people look at Soto as a work of art as well.