New York Fashion Week is once again in full swing and we are eagerly anticipating the “Made In China” extravaganza at Pier 59 come September 11. Nevertheless, nevermind the China models and designers decorating the Big Apple’s runways these days. The one Fashion Week woman making headlines across Chinese news outlets and social media today is Indian Reshma Qureshi, a 19-year-old acid attack survivor and campaigner for the #EndAcidSale movement.
PLEASE FIND THE CHINESE VERION OF QURESHI’S STORY ON SINA WEIBO @英国报姐. ENGLISH TRANSLATION, INTERPRETATION AND ADDITIONAL EDITING BY ELSBETH VAN PARIDON.
Dressed in a cream and floral-embroidered gown by Indian designer Archana Kochhar, Qureshi on September 8 commanded the attention of onlookers and onliners alike.
Qureshi was invited to take part in New York Fashion Week (NYFW) by FTL Moda, a critically acclaimed fashion show and editorial production company committed to breaking the industry’s existing stereotypical beauty order. Qureshi found herself under attack by her brother-in-law only two years ago, whilst trying to protect her sister from a harsh beating. Pinned down by his friends, they doused her face in acid, blinding one of her eyes and disfiguring her face in the process. She has since become the poster-protagonist of a campaign to end the open sale of acid in India, appearing in YouTube videos for “Make Love Not Scars”, a charity founded by Delhi-based Ria Sharma that aims “to provide acid attack victims an opportunity to regain their life on their own terms through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration”. Please take a smattery of a second to sign their petition in a bid to end the open sale of acid right here.
Qureshi’s videos offer offer make-up advice and beauty tips as well as discuss offenses and crimes against women. Last year, Qureshi’s “perfect red lips” tutorial went viral. The video concludes with her markedly saying: “You can easily buy a red lipstick anywhere; the same goes for concentrated acid.” Take a look:
From her YouTube platform to platform heels, then. Dressed in a cream and floral-embroidered gown by Indian designer Archana Kochhar, Qureshi on September 8 (the first official day of NYFW) commanded the attention of onlookers and onliners alike. From Time to ABC Australia, the spring in her runway step held no boundaries and left no opinionated stone unturned. Especially not where China was concerned. Chinese fashion watchers and admirers flocked to their social media stations in fantastic droves, streaming an outpour of support and praise for the, and I quote, “brave student” as well as distaste and dolor for such attacks which mostly target women and children – and present a topical terror across South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East. Fashionista, rebel with an NGO cause or big sister… People across China stepped up to the public plate where disagreement met worry, yet the applause for Qureshi remained the red woven thread.
In reaction to these types of attack taking place in China, social media opinions were divided. Take for example @iammaroro who states: “Our country does not see many such cases. Even though I myself do not know where to buy sulfuric acid, I do think a strict embargo on its purchase should be put in place mainly to take preventative measures. I hope this girl gets better with every day.” 我们国家不也有好多这样的案例么 硫酸虽然不知道哪里买但我觉得同样出一个禁售令或者严格购买的制度比较好 防患于未然 希望这个女生能够越来越好.
On the more critical end of the spectrum, @M麟妹妹M replies to @我超级酷der: “Have you already forgotten how some time ago a Chinese girl was badly burnt all over her body after she had refused a marriage proposal and was subsequently doused in oil and set on fire? This happens a lot in China, too.”你忘了前段时候那个因被求爱拒绝而泼油烧得全身疤痕的叫什么岩的少女了吗？中国也多啊.
In reaction to Qureshi’s catwalk appearance, kickstarting-it-all @英国报姐 writes: “This brave girl from India named Reshma now rises onto a higher platform, i.e. that of New York Fashion Week. Acid has disfigured the voices of vulnerable groups and this girl is making an effort to change the status quo. A big thumbs-up to her.” 硫酸杀不死她的灵魂。这个来自印度的勇敢姑娘 Reshma 站上了更高的舞台，去了纽约时装周，为硫酸毁容受害群体发声，为改变现状做着努力，真心为她点赞。
Unlike the upbeat pure lightness of Qureshi’s catwalk designer dress, the topic she addresses and the goals she stands for are honest and heavy, striking a chord with the most “superficial” of Fashion Week aficionados/-as. Now, as befits any floral flaunting NYFW headlinegrabber, Qureshi deserves to have the last word here. As she told the show’s attending AFP reporters:
“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. People have a tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective. I don’t want them to look at us like that anymore.”