Laxmi Agarwal was just 15 when a 32-year old man threw acid at her face after she rejected his marriage proposal. Agarwal, who has been left with severe facial disfigurements, is now the face of Indian fashion brand Viva N Diva’s campaign called “Face of Courage.”
“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,” Agarwal told the BBC.
Agarwal, a campaigner with NGO Stop Acid Attacks, is an advocate against the unregulated sale of acid, as well as for harsher punishments for the perpetrators of such as horrific crimes.
From this platform, the 26-year-old activist managed to file a petition, signed by 27,000 supporters, with the Indian Supreme Court to restrict the sale of over-the-counter acid and compensate victims to the sum of $5,000, in 2013.
Two years ago, the model, who is also a TV host, posed for photographer Rahul Saharan’s series of pictures featuring five young acid attack survivors.
These campaigns are about changing people’s perceptions and creating a wider conversation around fashion, beauty and of course, the violent attacks. As Agarwal explains, “The problem is not just in being a victim but also your victimization by the society. We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste.” —Luz Lancheros