A young woman who was bullied for her vitiligo has learned to appreciate the beauty of her skin by transforming it into art.
At 12-years-old, Ashley Soto was diagnosed with the condition that causes the loss of skin pigment in blotches and within months, it quickly covered 75 per cent of her body.
Bullied throughout her teenage years, she hid the distinctive patches under long-sleeved tops and trousers; an act that intensified after a girl asked whether she had "showered in bleach."
“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.”
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But, in her late teens Soto decided to make a change and swore that she would not be held back by her insecurities.
Instead, she set out to find a way that she could appreciate the beauty of her skin.
Today, Soto is an Instagram star with more than 87,000 followers and is best known for showing off her vitiligo through body art.
Starting by tracing her patches with a black marker, she soon realised that she could begin to see her vitiligo in a positive light and to teach others about the condition which affects as little as one per cent of the world’s population.
“I never realised 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 added.
“Now what others would perceive as an imperfection I have made into something more beautiful and made it more accepted than before."
Since then, Soto has continued to create different pieces of art with her skin including Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
She hopes that by using her skin as a canvas she can inspire others into understanding that vitiligo is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Thanks to doing this I've learned to accept myself more than I did before,” she said.