She survived an acid attack. Now her makeup tutorials are turning heads and raising awareness.
Meet Reshma Quereshi , a cheerful 18-year-old girl from Mumbai, India.
Like many 18-year-old girls, she is cheerful, bubbly, and loves getting fancy. She even does her own online makeup tutorials.
Quereshi isn't just a typical teen. She's the survivor of an acid attack.
Quereshi was visiting her sister in the northern town of Allahabad, India, when her sister's estranged husband doused Quereshi in concentrated sulfuric acid, causing severe disfigurement and the loss of her left eye.
Quereshi partnered with Make Love Not Scars to produce makeup tutorial videos.
The Indian nonprofit supports survivors of acid attacks. Quereshi's one-minute videos are lighthearted and cheerful, offering beauty tips just like any other makeup tutorial. Until, that is, she highlights just how easy it is for would-be attackers to procure strong acid in India.
As Ria Sharma, one of the founders of Make Love Not Scars told People magazine, "We felt that this video could change people's hearts and make them feel that survivors are as normal as they are."
Quereshi and other survivors are joining forces to put an end to over-the-counter acid sales.
Since caustic acid is used to scrub toilets, it goes unregulated in the marketplace. It's available in most stores and is inexpensive — as little as 20 rupees (33 cents) for a liter. While laws prohibit the sale of acid to anyone under 18, many of the procedures and rules are ignored.
That's why Make Love Not Scars is petitioning the Prime Minister of India and the heads of the Indian states and union territories to restrict the sale of strong acids altogether. They're also calling for an increase in excise duty to make acid too expensive for the average person to purchase and to hold acid sellers liable if the proper storage and sales procedures aren't followed.
The campaign has earned global support, and the petition has received over 159,000 signatures to date.
The changes can't come soon enough, as acid attacks are becoming an all too common occurrence.
These attacks rarely kill the victim, but instead cause serious injuries and disfigurement including burns, blindness, and exposed bone. Estimates suggest that 1,500 attacks occur each year, with the majority occurring in India. More than 75% of the victims are women.
While any new policies will arrive too late for survivors like Quereshi, their fight for justice continues.
Though her appearance may be different, Quereshi's spirit and courage remain unbowed as she devotes her energy to this campaign and supporting her fellow survivors.
As she told People magazine, "Beauty doesn't lie in physical appearance but in being strong from inside."
Watch Quereshi's one-minute tutorial on restricting acid sales and getting the perfect red lip.