She was scarred for life after an acid attack, but hopes her story inspires the world in a positive way. Reshma Quereshi, who walked the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) runway to send a message of courage and empowerment to other victims of such attacks, says the world should not abide by any beauty standards and not judge people based on their appearance.

Reshma walked the NYFW runway on Thursday for designer Archana Kochhar. This is the first trip to the US for Reshma, who suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye at the age of 17 in 2014 after being attacked with sulfuric acid by several male assailants in Allahabad, a city in Uttar Pradesh.

At NYFW, she walked down the runway bravely and proudly to promote a ban on the sale of corrosive substances used to maim thousands of women and children each year.

She said that she was thrilled to participate in the runway show during which she wore a long ivory dress embellished with colourful embroidery in pink, red, green and other hues, reports

“This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who are survivors of acid attacks, and this will give them courage,” Reshma said in an interview, speaking through a translator.

She added: “And it will also go to show people who judge people based on their appearance that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – you should look at everyone though the same eyes.”

Reshma said she “never thought in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen to me” and added that she also never knew that she “would be coming to such a big place to walk on such a big stage”.

After enduring skin graft surgeries and contemplating suicide, she met the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of gender-based crimes. Reshma is the face of the group’s online video campaign, which has been viewed by 1.3 million people and led to her appearance in New York.

Reshma said: “I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. In that moment I felt extremely happy.”

The collection, called A Tale of Two Cities, was inspired by the Taj Mahal and the rich, buoyant colours of magnificent India.

The fashion show was a part of a campaign, #IAmNYFW which aims to increase diversity in fashion. Also walking in the show was Indian actress Sunny Leone.