In 2014, Reshma Quereshi was attacked by her brother-in-law with acid in the Indian city of Allahabad, for “defying” him. The now 19-year-old suffered burns and disfigurement, as well as the loss of her left eye as a result of her agonizing injuries.
Since then, Quereshi has worked with organization Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) to address stereotypes imposed on survivors of acid attacks — participating in a Bollywood-style makeover, creating a video series “Beauty Tips by Reshma” and becoming the global face of the #EndAcidSale campaign, that appealed directly to the Indian prime minister to end the open sale of acid to the general public. MLNS reports there are around 1,000 acid-attack victims each year in India.
In a stirring video, released last week by the organization, Quereshi is moved to tears when told she will fly to the United States and walk the catwalk at New York Fashion Week in September.
Seeing Reshma walk a top fashion catwalk “will inject motivation, hope, determination in the thousands of women who hide themselves from the world and from their own families every day, feeling ashamed and violated in a way that has been considered, until now, irreversible,” MLNS said in a statement.
Including Quereshi in the line-up of models “will have society questioning their idea of ‘perfect.’ It will start a much-needed dialogue on what beauty should be judged by and I’m hoping the only answer will be courage and strength,” said MLNS founder and president Ria Sharma.
Watch acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi get the big news about walking at New York Fashion Week: