At the age of 17, Reshma Banoo Qureshi suffered a disfiguring acid attack at the hands of her brother-in-law.
Now, at 19 years old, Qureshi walked her first ever runway at New York Fashion Week on Thursday 8 September, opening the show wearing a floor-length printed dress by designer Archana Kochhar and a jewelled head piece.
Qureshi, who lost an eye in the attack, hopes her new modelling career will help raise awareness about seeking a ban on the unregulated sale of acid.
”This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who are survivors of acid attacks, and this will give them courage,” she told Associated Press.
“And it will also go to show people who judge people based on their appearance that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – you should look at everyone though the same eyes.”
The catwalk show was held by FTL Moda as part of its diversity celebrating campaign #TakeBeautyBack – a collaboration with Global Disability Inclusion and Fashion Week Online.
FTL Moda aims to represent women of all walks of life on the catwalk, and their previous shows have featured Madeline Stuart, a teenage model with Down syndrome.
Qureshi is attending NYFW as the face of Make Love Not Scars (MLNS), an organisation campaigning to put an end to sale of acid.
The organisation’s campaign #EndAcidSale is making waves on social media and billboards in India with powerful statements such as: “Why is a litre of concentrated acid sold cheaper than a 9ml eyeliner?”
MLNS also aims to change the stereotypes imposed on acid attack victims and redefine society’s concept of beauty.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times ahead of the runway show Qureshi said: “Today I realise that beauty is not just about how we look in the mirror.”
“It’s more important to have a beautiful heart.”