When we say, “Be comfortable in your own skin”, do we mean the outfits and clothes we wear or our actual skin that covers our flesh and bones? It’s a matter of consideration actually. Because to have a mindset like that and sharing it with people around us, we should be aware of what we say and mean. But if we are so modern with our ideology, then why do we often discriminate people based on their skin or integrate a social stigma against skin conditions like Vitiligo?
Fighting against that mentality, a young woman mustered the confidence she could and stood in the spotlight to become a role model for people with skin conditions everywhere. Join us below for this young lady’s inspiring story.
Ash Soto, now 21, was diagnosed with Vitiligo at the age of 12.
Vitiligo is a skin disease where patches of the skin start losing their pigmentation and turn white. There is still no knowledge of the cause, but it is mainly believed to be due to a genetic flaw that is triggered by an environmental factor making this autoimmune disease occur.
Ash once used to be a friendly, social child, and a bright cheerleader.
But when she learned about her skin condition, it slowly took a toll on her personality and she became quieter and cut off from all social activities. It’s all about the psychological consciousness that everyone goes through due to the impact of their surroundings.
It's crazy what years difference can make, right picture was before I had vitiligo – always with a smile on my face and joking around, I was super outgoing. Bottom right is when my vitiligo first started spreading and that's when the jokes started which caused me to never wear shorts or short sleeves again. I've been called cow, I even was once told I had Michael Jackson syndrome. How can an innocent girl trying to find herself take that? Both pictures on the left represent confidence, making something negative into a positive. When life gives you lemons what do you do? Make the best of it. No, I wasn't born with it, I grew into it which was the hardest thing I've ever been through. But now I look back and I'm happy that I went through it because I wouldn't be as strong as I am today 💪🏻 #selflove #vitiligo #bodypositivity 💫
She poured her feelings out and shared what she felt like in those days.
“I excluded myself from everything and everyone. I tried to be happy and smile, but over time I was filled with so much self-hatred for myself that I stopped doing the things I loved. It was so bad, I couldn’t even look at people in the eye anymore and I just wanted to be inside all the time. I developed anxiety and depression.”
Own who you are. I remember looking at magazines when I was younger and wanting to be tan just like the models in it – I felt like I had to live up to those standards. I begged my mom to let me get a spray tan & she did because it would make me happy and it did for a little while but than I realized that wasn't who I was and I was trying to be someone I wasn't. That was a big turning point, in that moment I realized I couldn't change it. My mom always told me god made you extra special, use it for good. To help people. To empower them and that's what I hope you angels all learn from me 🍒❤️ top is from – @goodbyebread ⚡️
But as she grew older, time passed and so did the healing. Ash learned to love her body and she is damn right beautiful the way she is.
Fast forward to May 2016, Ash was now fed up with having to cover up her body every time. And she was also aware of the social stigma that followed. There is not much awareness and light showered upon this issue. So, while she was hiding her body on social media with her makeup skills, Ash took up the nerves to reveal her body and be an inspiration for more people like her who have the same condition. She encourages ‘to not hide in the shadows anymore’.
Sometimes I wish I can go back in time and tell little me that everything was going to be okay, that it wasn't the end of the world. That I was going pull through anything – but at the same time I don't because all the pain molded me into the strong empowered woman I am today. I used to call my skin "monster" skin and it makes me so sad that I would ever think that. My skin tells a story – a story I'm still writing in hopes that you all see that you can pull through anything this life throws at you 📝💛
She was no longer conscious of what people might think; now it’s all about her uniqueness and appreciating herself as she is.
She joined and outlined the patches on her skin with a black marker and now she has the map of the world on her body known as The Marker Chronicles which is the first series of her photography edition.
I get stretch marks just like everyone else regardless of if I have a skin condition or not. I go through all the same struggles you all go through that's why I preach self love so much. I don't care if I have to repeat myself in every caption to love who you are regardless if you have tiger stripes, #vitiligo, or whatever the case may be. I'll sound like a broken record each time because at least someone reminded you to appreciate and love yourself unconditionally always 🎨🌎❤
People loved her bravery and positivity pushing her Instagram followers up to 160k.
Wishing I was at #coachella running freely vibing to music as the girl with the world painted on her body 🎠🌈🦄 note – this wouldn't be a Bambi caption if I didn't say this once, never stop fighting for #selflove & I don't care if I sound like a broken record each time if no one took the time to tell you, you are beautiful 🦋
Many are inspired by her story and here are their genuine comments from Instagram:
“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.” We are so proud of this young woman who took a step ahead in changing the impossible, keep doing what you do Ash, we adore and respect the determination and effort you’re making!”