A 19-year-old girl from India who had her face disfigured in an acid attack strutted on the catwalk during New York Fashion Week, wowing the audience.
“I feel really good about walking in fashion week because I feel I’m not just doing this for myself,” Reshma Qureshi, who also lost an eye in the attack, told PEOPLE through a translator ahead of the event.
“I feel I’m doing this for the acid attack survivors that there are and to give them confidence. I’m very excited to have this opportunity.”
Qureshi wore a cream and floral gown by the Indian designer Archana Kochhar on Thursday.
“People have the tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective and I don’t want them to look at them like that anymore,” she told the AFP after the show.
“I feel really good and the experience was great,” she said in Hindi through a translator, according to The Guardian
. “I feel as though it has definitely changed my life.”
FTL Moda, a fashion production company that challenges industry standards of beauty, invited Qureshi to model. Last year, the company also invited a model with Down’s Syndrome.
Qureshi was attacked in May 2014, when her sister’s estranged husband and his friends pinned her down and poured acid on her face.
“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 said.
Stylists, bloggers and fellow models cheered her on as she debuted in New York.
In India, an estimated 500 to 1,000 acid attacks take place each year, according to The Guardian
Qureshi appears in YouTube videos for Make Love Not Scars, a charity that raises awareness for acid attack survivors.
The videos are filmed in her home in Mumbai, and offer make-up advice and beauty tips. They also discuss crimes against women.
Last year, Quereshi’s “How to get perfect red lips” tutorial went viral. “You’ll easily find a red lipstick in the market, just like concentrated acid,” she said in the video.
Qureshi’s dream is to complete her last two years of high school and go to college.
“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,” she said. “I do feel brave.”