On March 8, International Women's Day, there were numerous events and stories celebrating the amazing work of barrier-breaking and history-making women. Among these events was the "Beauty Redefined" fashion show in Bangladesh, which brought attention to the strength and beauty of acid attack survivors.
The show, hosted by an organization fighting injustices around the world called ActionAid, featured models of all ages who have survived an acid attack.
"Survivors of acid attacks have taken to the catwalk in Bangladesh to challenge perceptions of beauty and celebrate the strength of women for International Women's Day. Shonali was only 17 days old when a man poured acid on her face in a dispute with her parents over property. Now 14, Shonali is championing the fight against acid violence in the country. She opened the show, called 'Beauty Redefined', organized by ActionAid Bangladesh. ActionAid Bangladesh has been supporting acid attack survivors like Shonali for over 17 years, and contributed to the introduction of the Acid Control Act and Acid Crime Prevention Acts of 2002 in Bangladesh."
Thanks to the work of Shonali and those behind ActionAid Bangladesh, survivors had the opportunity to seek community and comfort in this show. And after Shonali walked the runway first, she was followed by a range of other women with similar stories. One woman who walked was attacked at 24 along with three other relatives while they slept.
There was also a 40-year-old in the show, who was attacked at 17 for refusing a marriage proposal. She told Reuters how preparing for the "Beauty Redefined" runway has helped her gain more confidence.
"I am now more confident. I will not hide my face any more."
All the models wore clothes by fashion designer, UNESCO Artist for Peace, and activist Bibi Russell. "This is something really close to my heart," Russell told Reuters. "I want them to have recognition. Let them have life as a part of this world."
Shows such as "Redefining Beauty" are so important for raising awareness about acid attacks, and thankfully many other survivors have come forward in the past as well. Recently, one survivor named Monica Singh talked about dispelling beauty myths in a video for Allure. Another survivor named Reshma Bano made headlines in September 2016 for raising awareness after she modeled in New York Fashion Week.
Make Love Not Scars, an organization that supports acid attack survivors, reports that there are approximately 1,000 acid attacks every year and buying concentrated acid is still very easy to do in many parts of the world.
This show, along with other campaigns, will hopefully help create the positive change needed to better protect women.
(H/T: Brit + Co)