How Instagram helped this one woman cope with her vitiligo

Upon discovering a skin condition at the age of 12 called vitiligo Ash Soto’s self esteem suffered through high school in bouts of anxiety, depression, and the overwhelming fear of showing her skin. But as an adult, Instagram helped her overcome vitiligo — or at least all the insecurities she had about it. Vitiligo is the result of an individuals immune system destroying the cells that produce pigment, hence the appearance of white patches. There is no cure for the condition and treatments largely include medications or procedures that even out the skin tone.

Now 21 years old, Soto has found a way to embrace her body and her past with anxieties that surround a condition that was once incredibly hindering. Through Instagram — and she also credits her maturity — she has found a platform to promote body positivity while simultaneously strengthening her personal attitude towards herself.

Her handle, @RadiantBambi, already speaks volumes about how Soto feels in her skin and her 49,000 followers must definitely agree. Not too long ago, Soto’s account was for makeup tutorials and products. Soto recently talked to SELF, “I would just post selfies of my face — that was it — because I was afraid to put myself out there.”

When she decided to post her first Instagram post where she revealed her vitiligo she wrote an empowering caption that said, “They say your body is a canvas, I’m just painted differently. Finally at a point in my life where I can say I love the skin I’m in. It’s a learning experience each day but I’m getting there.” The result? A supportive and positive response, followed by a slew of followers and shares. 

Soto goes on to say on her account, "I hope this post inspires all girls to be comfortable with themselves and their bodies because everyone is beautiful and unique. 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.)"

After such a reinforcement from social media, Soto decided to begin “Marker Chronicles” where she traces the lines of her skin, creating similarities to a world map, without any factual continents. “The girl with the world painted on her body” is how her profile reads as gorgeous images of her sprinkled body fill up her Instagram feed.

“And remember my angels self love is the best love you’ll ever feel. I want all of you to be able to experience it. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing to push you to find that confidence … side note – it’s not a tattoo, I traced my spots with a marker!” said Soto on her account.

When you don’t want to be in the skin that you are in, negativity and anxiety can cloud your every thought. Even throughout Florida summers, Soto would wear long pants and long sleeves to hide her vitiligo out of fear of bullying, according to her interview with SELF. And while social media platforms, like Instagram, can be empowering, they can also lead users to compare themselves to other bodies. However, Soto decided to come out of that way of thinking and celebrate the body that she was gifted. She goes on to say that “vitiligo is one of the most beautiful things — it’s who I am.”

For people of all ages who suffer from vitiligo, Ash Soto is an inspiration. For everyone who suffers from low self esteem — or simply has “one of those days” — Soto is a voice to be heard. Her powerful transformation in loving her body and promoting that love to her followers is something that is incredibly admirable.

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