For their fashion campaign "Face of Courage," Indian retailer Viva N Diva wanted to find a woman who encapsulated bravery, strength and perseverance. They found Laxmi Saa, an acid attack survivor and activist who encapsulates all of that and more.
When Saa was 15, a 32-year-old man attacked her with acid after she refused his marriage proposal, she told the BBC. Since then, she's been a vocal proponent for harsher punishment for the perpetrators of acid attacks, and she has also pushed back against the unregulated sale of acid in India.
Now, Viva N Diva has brought her into a wider spotlight for a whole new audience as she models their latest line of clothes for women.
"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," Saa told BBC. "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."
According to the Acid Survivors Foundation India (ASFI), reported the Guardian, 349 people in India were assaulted in acid attacks in 2014, most of them women.
Viva N Diva became interested in Saa because of her unique outlook on beauty, which she says is more complex than mere physical appearance. Measuring women by their physical beauty is what leads to devaluing the women who've been attacked in India.
"The problem is not just in being a victim but also your victimization by the society," Saa told the BBC. "We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste."
Already on Viva N Diva's Facebook page, which has close to 20,000 fans, commenters have been dishing out positive responses to the new spokesmodel. Shoppers have commented, "We all need this kind of courage" and "You have a model with not only beauty and grace, but also tenacity and strength. Thank you for redefining the representation of a fashion brand."
Having victims of acid attacks not only show their faces proudly, but do so with their hair and makeup beautifully done, is an awesome rebuttal to those who would try to rob them of their beauty and confidence.
Saa has also modeled for Indian clothing line Rupa Designs back in 2014, and in August 2015, an acid attack survivor named Reshma got the internet's attention with a beauty tutorial called "How to get perfect red lips." The one-minute beauty refresher shows Reshma walking through the steps of exfoliating and lining ones lips, before adding, "Finally, the most important tip. You'll find a red lipstick easily in the market, just like concentrated acid. This is the reason why, every day, a girl becomes a victim of an acid attack."
The group behind the video, which has been viewed more than a million times, was the Delhi-based organization Make Love Not Scars, which raises awareness of acid attacks in India. The strength of these women is undeniable and now with the fashion world taking notice, more people than ever before can learn their story.
Feel free to watch the entire Viva N Diva video below: