Ash Soto is about to become your new favorite beauty blogger.
Soto was diagnosed with vitiligo, a skin condition that affects the pigment in skin, when she was 12. What started as a couple of white spots on her neck eventually spread to cover much of her arms, torso, and legs, she told aplus.com.
At first, Soto tried to cover it up. She wore long-sleeved shirts and jeans and stopped hanging out with friends at the beach, she told aplus.com.
But in a post on Instagram almost a year ago, Soto opened up about her condition.
"They say your body is a canvas, I'm just painted differently," she wrote in the initial post. "Finally at a point in my life where I can say I love the skin I'm in."
"I hope this post inspires all girls to be comfortable with themselves and their bodies because everyone is beautiful and unique," she continued. "You may not see it, but trust me you're special. We need more self love now a days. Accept yourself and everything else will fall into place 🌹✨ (yes, it's vitiligo and any negativity will get you blocked.)"
Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes vitiligo, but think it may be an autoimmune disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. Autoimmune diseases happen when someone's immune system attacks parts of their body, like Soto's body attacks the melanin in her skin. Although she developed the condition as a pre-teen, for most people, it shows up in their twenties and is more noticeable in people with dark skin.
There are some treatments that may help restore pigment to skin, but they're not very effective, according to the NIH. And, anyway, with more and more people — often women — opening up about vitiligo, we'd bet fewer people feel the need to "treat" the condition.
Since her initial posting, Soto has become an outspoken advocate for people with vitiligo and has been posting beautiful photos of her skin to Instagram. In one post, she turned her body into an actual work of art when she traced the patterns on her skin with a marker.
The post blew up with more than 22,000 likes and hundreds of comments. Lots of commenters started to say that the pattern looked like a world map, so Soto made it one.
(Shoutout to the stretch mark love she shares in this post, too!)
She has traced her skin patterns in several different colored markers and painted other designs on her skin, too. She calls these photos The Marker Chronicles, to show that "we are all art."
"This 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," she told aplus.com.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?