Laxmi Saa, an Indian woman who was the victim of a brutal acid attack, was chosen to be the face of a new fashion line. The aptly named campaign that she is representing is called “Face of Courage” and is in cooperation with the prominent fashion designer Viva N Diva.
Saa was 15-years-old at the time of her attack, and she has been both physically and mentally scarred ever since, but she has remained strong and become a vocal advocate for women’s rights.
“It felt cold first. Then I felt an intense burning. Then the liquid melted my skin,” Saa said of the attack.
“This opportunity to represent an apparel brand was a platform for me to set an example for women like me to be confident and have courage despite their physical appearances. This was also a platform for me to send a clear message to criminals that women will not lose courage even after they are attacked with acid to destroy their physical beauty,” Saa told BBC.
Saa also said that this campaign is intended to show that women who are victims of violence will not lose their courage, even in the most extreme circumstances.
Sadly, acid attacks are extremely common across the world and especially in India. According to the Acid Survivors Trust International, there could be as many as 1,000 acid attacks every year in India alone. However, it is difficult to give a fair estimate because many of these attacks go unreported.
“The problem is not just in being a victim but also your victimisation by the society. We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste,” she said.
Rupesh Jhawar, Co-founder of Viva N Diva said that she was inspired by Saa to capture an unconventional beauty.
“For a moment I had seen beauty in a very different way and we wanted to capture it. To my eyes that are used to seeing fashion models with flawless skins dolled up in front of the cameras every day, this view was both disturbing and inspiring. For a moment, I had seen beauty in a very different way and we wanted to capture it – remove any speck of being a victim from those eyes and give them a stage, an employment, a platform, a medium to flaunt it with style,” Jhawar said.