No two human beings look alike but for some strange reason society has body standards and a rigid definition of what kind of looks are acceptable. Anybody slightly fatter or thinner or shorter or taller or with a different skin colour would have to do almost nothing to become targets for people who choose to bully them and bring down their self-confidence. In a world that is so equipped to really stick to the ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ adage, it’s not surprising that this 21-year old with vitiligo had a tough life.

It all started when Ash Soto was a 12-year old girl and a tiny white spot appeared on her neck which she ignored until another one appeared soon. It was after this that Soto was diagnosed with vitiligo and life turned upside down for her. Prior to this condition, Ash was a cheerleader and loved going to the beach but once vitiligo caused patches of her skin to lose pigmentation we can all imagine how it brought her confidence rumbling down.

Speaking to a media house, Soto said that when she was diagnosed with vitiligo her mother sat and cried while she herself was scared and clueless given her lack of awareness about the condition. She also did not know how this condition was going to change her life and change it did. The young girl’s vitiligo spread and she got conscious enough about it to hide her body under full sleeves and fully covered clothes.

Soto says that even though she smiled, she could not help but feel self-hatred which got so bad that she could not even look people in the eye anymore. She confined herself to her home and the outgoing girl now started staying inside and avoiding people. Certain spots of her hair grew out grey like it does in people with vitiligo and she compared her skin to that of the girls in magazines, wondering why she could not be like them.

What came as a turning point in Soto’s life was her Instagram account, where she showed off her makeup skills and succesfully hid her vitiligo. Until one fine day she decided to come clean to her followers. She describes the decision as a very challenging one given how those sitting behind computer screens can be ruthless and prepared herself for whatever might come her way as a result of the call she had taken. To her surprise, she got a massively positive response and people even reached out to her with their own experiences.

Motivated by this, she decided to start off a project that she named ‘The Marker Chronicles’ to prove how all our bodies are a work of art. She uses markers and paint to outline her vitiligo and to show people how vitiligo has made her body into a canvas. Hoping to promote self-love the 21-year old stresses on how we need to accept and love ourselves irrespective of whether or not anyone else does. Here are some of her creative and inspiring Instagram posts by which she hopes to drive across the message that what makes us different from others is what makes us special.

Secret member of the #girlgang _

A post shared by Ash Soto (@radiantbambi) on

Go follow her Instagram handle for more inspiration and to learn how to love oneself with all our flaws.