India acid attack survivor redefines beauty at NY Fashion Week

Fri Sep 9, 2016 8:00am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Indian model scarred in an acid attack challenged perceptions of beauty as she strutted down the runway at New York Fashion Week to promote a ban on the sale of corrosive substances used to maim thousands of women and children each year.

A smiling Reshma Quereshi, 19, opened the FTL Moda show on Thursday to applause in a long-sleeve, white gown with embroidered appliques by Indian designer Archana Kochhar during her first trip to the United States.

The buzz and glamour of the event was a world away from Allahbad, India, where she suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye two years ago after being attacked with sulfuric acid by her estranged brother-in-law and two men.

Quereshi never thought she would be going abroad, much less modeling in New York.

After enduring numerous skin graft surgeries and contemplating suicide, she met the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes.

Quereshi is the face of the group's online video campaign, which has been viewed by 1.3 million people and led to her appearance in New York.

"I couldn't believe it was happening to me," Quereshi said about the trip through a translator. "In that moment I felt extremely happy."

She said she hopes her turn on the catwalk will inspire hope and confidence in other acid attack survivors and spur countries to regulate the sale of cheap and easily available acids.   Continued...

Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi has make up applied before walking to present Indian designer Archana Kochhar's Spring/Summer 2017 collections during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson