If you or anyone you know deals with skin conditions such as vitiligo, then you know that it can be difficult to embrace your differences when the rest of the world seems to have decided that there is a "perfect" body that everyone should have. Vitiligo is a condition wherein patches of skin lose their pigment, which looks different on every individual affected by it.
Ashley Soto, who was bullied as a child for her noticeable difference in skin pigmentation, spent many years covering up her skin to avoid being mocked. But instead of allowing bullies to dictate how she felt about her body, she learned to embrace her differences through 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," she said in an interview with the Daily Mail. Once she discovered how amazing the patches looked when outlined, Soto started looking for what beautiful shapes and patterns she could find in her own skin.
"This was so much fun to do; finding little patterns and seeing that you truly are ART...I encourage everyone with #vitiligo or whatever you might have to find the positive in every situation and not let the negative thoughts cloud your mind," she wrote in her first Instagram post of her traced skin.
But she didn't just stop at tracing—oh no, she decided to turn her designs into full-on artwork. As in, world maps and flowers and even Van Gogh's freaking "Starry Night" painting, for crying out loud. How awesome is this??
I can't even paint that well in a wine and canvas class, so I think that this body artwork is truly amazing. And the fact that Ash is doing this using the very thing she was once made fun of for makes it that much better.
Ash Soto isn't the only person with vitiligo who is helping to build awareness and encourage body positivity. Canadian model Winnie Harlow, who was featured in Beyoncé's "Lemonade" video, also has this same rare skin condition. These women are doing an amazing job of showing the world that your "differences" are NEVER something you should be ashamed of.
I think Ash's Instagram bio sums it all up perfectly. It reads: "Ash Soto, the girl with the world painted on her body." She's shown us that she's not just a girl with the skin condition, she's SO much more. And that is even more beautiful than her body art itself.