How These Acid Attack Survivors Are Using Makeup To Demand Change

by Taia Handlin

*Warning: graphic images

Reshma Bano Quereshi has taken the internet by storm with her “Beauty Tips by Reshma” because the eighteen year old acid attack survivor is building on the YouTube beauty tutorial model and using it as a tool for radical change.

But it is not just her.

She is part of a larger movement called Make Love Not Scars, which aims to raise awareness, funds, and political action for acid attack survivors. Currently, the cost of lipstick in India is several times greater than the cost of permanently disfiguring sulfuric acid products – and the police are doing very little to arrest the attackers. One survivor, Aarti Kishore Thakur, tells her story of being attacked three times before the police took any action, leaving her permanently scarred and lacking funds for medical treatment.

 Reshma Bano Quereshi, before and after surgery



Aarti Kishore Thakur

What began as the college project of Ria Sharma, Make Love Not Scars has evolved into the movement that spawned #EndAcidSales and has raised thousands of dollars for survivor medical care. The larger conceptual goal of the movement is to bring light to the fact that these kinds of scars are not only physical: “acid is one substance that can not only ruin your life, but it can damage you so deeply emotionally, physically, socially, in so many aspects,” Sharma reminds the world. As in most countries, when women stray from the path of “normal” beauty, they are often met with confusion, ridicule, and violence.

In another video Bharat Nayak, another Make Love Not Scars activist, gives a make-over to Sapna, another survivor and one of the youngest.



Nayak mentioned that, among other things, they were going to cover Sapna’s scars at her request. Sharma was quick to remind viewers: “not that she needs it.” This is an important aspect to Make Love Not Scars – Sharma stresses that what makes this movement different than other similar ones is that they don’t just have a “static and passive website” with survivor stories and links to donate. Make Love Not Scars is survivor-centric. Survivors have pages with their stories, live blogs, videos, all ongoing reminders that survivors are whole, complex, fascinating humans with lives and personalities beyond their scars.


Check out Make Love Not Scars, sign the petition to help stop the sale of acid and donate to help fund medical treatment.

Images via Make Love Not War

Videos via YouTube

 Read more at 

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