We now take a break from your regularly scheduled Kardashian and Jenner news to bring your attention to something that truly matters (no shade, Kylie—your blonde hair was the center of my universe for three days, but we have to pause for this). An incredibly strong, empowering, brave…and every other synonym that doesn’t do her justice…acid-attack survivor walked—sorry, slayed—the runway at New York Fashion Week last night, and the entire industry tried to refrain from both hugging her and bowing down to her at the same time.
On Thursday evening, 19-year-old Reshma Qureshi opened the show for Indian designer Archana Kochhar. The only noticeable difference between Qureshi and the other veteran models in the lineup was the fact that she was missing an eye, the result of her brutal acid attack in 2014. Acid attacks are a particularly heinous crime that almost always target women and children, are almost always committed by men, and are almost always due to jealousy, rebuked marriage proposals, and all the other bullshit that makes someone think acid attacks are OK.
This wasn’t Qureshi’s first courageous act, though. Back in India, the teen is a YouTube beauty vlogger, using the platform to speak out against the sale of acid in open markets while demonstrating beauty tips and tricks. “Why should we not enjoy our lives? What happened to us is not our fault and we’ve done nothing wrong and so we should also move forward in life,” said Qureshi to Agence France-Press.
But make no mistake; Qureshi does not want your pity. “I want to tell the world—do not see us in a weak light, and see that even we can go out and do things,” she added, after she walked the runway in a floor-length gown. “People have a tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective and I don’t want them to look at them like that anymore.”