Updated: January 21, 2016 7:46:16 pm
The name Laxmi Saa is synonymous with inspiration and a fight-back attitude. Her adopted surname Saa stands for Stop Acid Attack, a movement she started after an incident that would bog any other person down. But not Laxmi, because she is undoubtedly one of India’s strongest women.
An acid attack survivor, Laxmi has tirelessly worked to bring about social change and help other attack survivors, doing which she effortlessly also sets the rules of the game of life, which usually involves smashing through stereotypes. One such example is her latest venture as the face of an Indian apparel website — where she oozes courage and confidence. Viva N Diva, an apparels brand, is breaking stereotypes in the glam world and making way for a bigger change. And they have signed on Laxmi to be the new face for their designer outfits — a campaign they call the ‘Face of Courage’.
Laxmi flew to Mumbai for the shoot in October 2015 and says she couldn’t be happier. “I didn’t feel for a second that I wasn’t a professional model. I wasn’t made to feel I was a survivor. There were, lights, camera, make-up artists, it was different world and I enjoyed every moment of it. I love to dress up and here I was trying new clothes every minute. The feeling was beautiful,” she told Indian Express.com.
This project is right up Laxmi’s alley, who has been working to help acid attack survivors since 2013 through her NGO, Chhanv Foundation, which essentially runs the Stop Acid Attack campaign and provide sustenance and rehabilitation to survivors. “We have welcomed over 300 survivors from all over the country and help them get on with their lives. When we narrate them our stories, it gives them strength to face life as it comes,” she says. Sheroes, a cafe that opened last year in Agra, is another way to help survivors stand on their feet. “We are also planning to open Sheroes in Delhi and Lucknow. It’s difficult for them to get jobs so we are trying to create opportunities in whatever way possible,” she added.
Though, it is a positive step towards a social change, Laxmi strongly believes there is a dire need of wider dialogue on the issue. “The problem is victimisation by the society. We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste.”
By being a part of this campaign, Laxmi wants to sends two strong messages to the world, one, that facial beauty is not everything. “The mindset is changing but there’s still a long way to go,” she believes. And second, she thinks it’s a lesson to all those criminals who have done it and intend to do it in future. “Our life is not going to stop. Understanding the psyche of the criminal, I have realised, what they want is to make you live a life confined to closed spaces. But I have fought back and I urge every girl to fight for survival and come out strong.”
Talking about the campaign, Rupesh Jhawar, director of Viva N Diva says, they were inspired to initiate this campaign after they saw the acid attack survivor’s photo shoot conducted last year. Accustomed to see flawless fashion models, this view was both disturbing and inspiring. “For a moment we had seen beauty in a very different way and all we thought was to capture it to give it a meaning, to remove any speck of being a victim from those eyes and give them a stage, an employment, a platform a medium to flaunt it with style,” says Jhawar.
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