Monica Luhar for NBC News Asian America – April 12, 2016
Monica Singh doesn’t recognize the girl in her old family photographs.
“It’s difficult for any girl to see her face every day in the mirror all burned and scarred,” Singh told NBC News. “I know I was a girl who used to get worried if she got pimples or any mark on her face, and now her entire face is full of scars.”
For many years, those scars were a painful reminder of an acid attack that happened in Lucknow, India, in 2005, but today, the 30-year-old UN Women Global Youth Champion is speaking out against gender-based violence and using fashion to empower and encourage survivors to pursue their dreams.
Working in the fashion industry has always been a childhood dream for Singh. Growing up in New Delhi, India, she idolized fashion designers Valentino, Manish Arora, and Alexander McQueen and spent her time brainstorming new designs in her sketchpad and consuming the latest fashion news.
“I look at fashion as a confident tool…I want to define [myself] as a woman who can be what she wants to be if she decided with the purest heart. I’m trying to tell every girl who has gone through so much that, ‘yes, you can do it,'” Singh said.