Two years ago, Reshma Quereshi was permanently disfigured in an acid attack while walking to school in India. She was only 17. On Thursday, she walked in New York Fashion Week, ABC News reports. According to the Independent, Quereshi was held down by a group of men, including her sister's estranged husband, who poured sulfuric acid on her. The acid ate through the skin of her face and cost her an eye. For a year following the attack, she was suicidal. Then she became the face of Make Love Not Scars, a nonprofit fighting acid attacks. The organization's videos featuring Quereshi have been viewed by 1.3 million people, Reuters reports.
Quereshi broke down in tears when she learned she was being flown to New York for Fashion Week. It was the first time she left India. "I couldn't believe it was happening to me," she tells Reuters. She was greeted by a wave of applause as the first model to hit the runway during FTL Moda's show Thursday. The fashion production firm's president says it's important to get people like Quereshi in the public eye. "We can actually stop this thing," she tells ABC. Quereshi agrees, telling the Independent: “It’s important that people hear the story about the survivors of acid attacks and to know they can lead normal lives.” There are about 1,000 acid attacks reported in India every year, though the actual number is probably much higher. (Vogue gave models fake disabilities.)