New York Fashion Week kicked off with a bang, with highlights that showcased an emotional but empowering appearance by Reshma Quereshi, an acid attack survivor from India, who graced the runway for the first time in hopes to send out a message of courage to other survivors who have fallen victim of such attacks in her country, as well as a tribute to the late New York Times Photographer – Bill Cunningham.

Most fashion shows have beautiful clothes on display. Not many have an important social message behind them, and fewer still have a powerful spokesman walking the runway. At just 17, Reshma Qureshi fell victim of on acid attack at the hands of several male assailants where she lost her left eye and left her face was severely scarred. Now at age 19 and walking the runways of New York, she is no longer a victim but rather a survivor with an empowering message. “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,” Qureshi said in an interview, “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 through the same eyes.”

When Bano hits the runway at the FTL Moda show, it will further draw attention to these horrible acid attacks and it will hopefully contribute to stopping the sale of acid.

Quereshi is attending New York Fashion Week as the face of Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) which is an organisation campaigning to put an end to the sale of acid. The campaign is certainly making waves and trending on social media and billboards in India which supporting powerful statements such as; “Why is a litre of concentrated acid sold cheaper that a 9ml eyeliner.”

She said on Thursday that she was thrilled to participate in the runway show; where she wore a long ivory dress embellished with colourful embroidery in pink, red, green and other hues and a sparkly tiara in her hair.

The MLNS campaign is aiming to change the stereotypes that are associated with acid attack survivors and really challenges society’s concept of beauty by redefining it.

“Today I realise that beauty is not just about how we look in the mirror.”

“It’s more important to have a beautiful heart.”

– Reshma Quereshi

Reshma is truly an inspiration to young girls whether they are victims of an acid attack or not, breaking the boundaries of what true beauty is and sharing her touching story. We only wish her the best in her future endeavours and hope this won’t be the last time we are seeing her on the fashion runways.

– Sihle Mthethwa, Correspondent (Fashion)