When she was 15, Laxmi Saa received a marriage proposal from her friend’s brother.
She rebuffed the offer from the man, who — at 32 — was more than twice her age.
As revenge for the rejection, he and others pinned the teen down in broad daylight while she was waiting for a bus and threw acid on her, melting her skin.
Ms Saa previously described the horrific assault as feeling “as if someone had set my whole body on fire”.
“The skin was just coming off, it was like dripping, from my hands and from my face”.
Since then, she has become one of India’s best known and most outspoken advocates against the unregulated sale of acid and the lenient punishment of those that use it to attack others.
(It’s estimated up to 1000 acid attacks occur in the country every year on largely female victims, many of which go unreported.)
Now, Ms Saa is the new face of Indian fashion retail brand Viva N Diva as part of their campaign titled “Face of Courage”.
“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,” Ms 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.
“The problem is not just in being a victim but also your victimisation by the society. We are treated as if we are good for nothing and as if our lives are a waste.”
In 2013, India’s Supreme Court directed state governments to develop a policy to regulate the over-the-counter sale of acid after a petition by Ms Saa.
Now, she has an eight-month-old daughter with her partner, activist Alok Dixit, with whom she runs the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, which focuses on helping other acid victims.
Watch Laxmi’s ad here (post continues after video):
Viva N Diva co-founder Rupesh Jhawar told the BBC he was inspired to change the way people saw fashion and beauty after seeing a calendar featuring survivors of acid attacks.
“To my eyes that are used to seeing fashion models with flawless skins dolled up in front of the cameras every day, this view was both disturbing and inspiring,” he said.
“For a moment, I had seen beauty in a very different way and we wanted to capture it – 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.”