New York, Sending a powerful message of resilience and courage, an Indian teenager whose face was brutally disfigured in an acid attack walked the runway at the prestigious New York Fashion Week here, winning hearts with her message that beauty is not skin deep.
Reshma Qureshi, 19, was invited to take part in the bi-annual fashion week by fashion production company FTL Moda.
Qureshi wore a floor-length white gown with floral prints by Indian designer Archana Kochhar and was greeted with cheers and applause as she confidently walked the ramp yesterday in what she called a life-changing experience.
Backstage, as she was getting ready to walk in two shows, video cameras and photographers thronged around her. "It feels very nice," Qureshi said, speaking in Hindi.
She stressed that it is important for people to know "the story about the survivors of acid attacks and that they too can lead normal lives."
Speaking through a translator, Qureshi said the message she wants to send across with her appearance at the fashion week is that people should not be judged based on their appearance.
"You shouldn't judge a book by its cover," said Qureshi, who lost an eye in the acid attack.
"I want to tell the world that do not see us in a weak light and even we can go out and do things," she was quoted as saying by the ABC News.
The runway appearance was part of FTL Moda's #TakeBeautyBack fashion week campaign.
Qureshi was attacked by her brother-in-law in 2004 and her face was doused in acid by him and his friends.
Instead of letting that incident pull her down, Qureshi has become a strong voice for acid attack victims in India.
In India, Qureshi launched her own YouTube videos for 'Make Love Not Scars', a charity that aims "to raise awareness for acid attack survivors and empower them to live life with dignity".
In the videos, filmed in her home in Mumbai, Qureshi offers make-up advice and beauty tips and discuss crimes against women.