An Indian woman by the name of Laxmi Saa, who suffered severe acid burns, as a form of punishment, is the new face of a fashion campaign called “Face of Courage”.
The campaign not only challenges societal notions of beauty, but it also speaks up against an ongoing problem not often recognized by the Indian media: acid throwing.
By far one of the ugliest hate crimes felt by Indian women, acid throwing is known for being used by men as a way to punish women for saying “no”.
In the case of Saa, it was after rejecting a marriage proposal that she was targeted. She was just 15 at the time of her assault, but remembers the incident in detail.
“It felt cold first. Then I felt an intense burning. Then the liquid melted my skin,” she said in an interview with BBC.
It’s horror stories like Saa’s that haunt so many Indian women and, according to Acid Survivors Trust International, leave 500-1,000 women a year to live in the shadow of their consequences.
The majority of these consequences are physical, and cannot be fully undone. It’s a reality in which women like Saa are left scarred and disfigured, without the proper tools to navigate a world where outer beauty is so heavily idealized.
In the hopes of shattering the wall that separates physical beauty from acid survivors—an unfair, unwarranted divide—Saa has worked forcefully to create a voice for those living similar stories, and is also a major advocate for the better regulation of acid sales.
“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,” she tells BBC, of her involvement in the new campaign.
In the Western world we have our own beauty standards to overcome, and it’s a battle we are fighting every day. But in many parts of the world, it’s a conversation that’s only just been started.
“Face of Courage” takes India’s engagement with this issue to the next level, and highlights women around the world that have been hit with not one, but two evils simultaneously: violence and body shame.
Image sources: trendhunter.com