Showcasing the newest styles from renowned designers wasn’t the only thing on the agenda for this season’s New York Fashion Week — at least not for one model.
NBC News reports that 19-year-old Reshma Quereshi opened the FTL Moda show on Thursday, Sept. 8, wearing a white embroidered gown by Indian designer Archana Kochhar, but Quereshi’s trip down the runway was about more than showing off the gown. It was instead a moment to prove that she is not defined by her circumstances.
Quereshi “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,” reports NBC News, prompting a string of skin graft surgeries and even stirring her to contemplate suicide.
But after meeting the founder of Make Love Not Scars — a “group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes” — NBC News says Quereshi became the face of the organization’s online campaign, which resulted in a video that’s been viewed over 1.3 million times, not to mention her stint at New York Fashion Week.
Speaking on her time in New York (which happens to be her first), NBC News says Quereshi told her translator, “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me … In that moment I felt extremely happy.”
But beyond her excitement, NBC News reports Quereshi hopes her appearance at FTL Moda’s show “will inspire hope and confidence in other acid attack survivors and spur countries to regulate the sale of cheap and easily available acids.”
“No one else understands what an acid attack is except the survivors themselves,” she said, according to NBC News. “I do not want this to happen to anyone else.”