Video tutorials have become a mainstay of our beauty routines.
Can’t do a fishtail plait? Now you can. Looking for the perfect way to disguise last night’s bottle of wine? An under-eye concealer tutorial is only a click away. There are hundreds of thousands available online for all your aesthetic conundrums.
But it’s rare to see beauty vlogs go below the surface and be adopted as a means for political ends.
Reshma Bano Quereshi, 18, a Mumbai acid-attack victim, has partnered with charity Make Love Not Scars, to raise awareness of the commonality of these horrific attacks and campaign in support of fellow victims, through her YouTube videos.
The videos masquerade as basic beauty tutorials, with Quereshi explaining how to achieve, for example, the perfect red lip - apply lip balm…then liner in the correct shade - before saying where viewers can find the beauty products:
“Easily, in the market…just like concentrated acid.”
Quereshi was allegedly attacked with sulphuric acid in 2014 in Northern India by a group of men including her estranged brother-in-law. As a result of the attack, she has been left severely disfigured and lost her left eye.
The statement in Quereshi's videos draw our attention to the absurdity that the corrosive substance is available so easily in India, and for the price of a tube of lipstick or an eyeliner, considering the commonality of acid attacks in India today (at least one per day – an excruciatingly shocking statistic.)
The videos all end with Quereshi urging viewers to sign the petition to ban over-the-counter sales of acid.
Statistics show that 90% of acid attack victims are women, and the perpetrators are usually men. The motive behind the vicious violence is predominantly revenge from a scorned partner, ex-partner, or a rejected man.
Bharat Nayak, a spokesperson for Make Love Not Scars, told The New York Times that the video adopted a beauty tutorial format in which to spread this important message, in the hope of normalising victims in the eye of the viewer:
“We wanted to create a contrast by using a topic as superficial as makeup to address a hard hitting issue of acid attacks,” Nayak says.
“There is so much stigma attached to this, that we felt a video of this kind can change people’s heart and make them feel survivors are as normal as they are.”
In 2013, an order from the Supreme Court of India was issued to stop the open sale of acid, and place tighter restrictions upon distributors, but this has not been enough – toilet acids remain readily available.
Acid attacks have only recently been classified as an autonomous crime, and campaigners are now lobbying for better medical treatment and legal assistance for victims
In an interview with People magazine, Quereshi revealed that she did not receive government aid for her medical treatment following the attack, instead turning to a charity for help.
Quereshi’s lipstick video has been viewed almost a million times and sparked the use of the hashtag #EndAcidSale.
To help prevent further acid attacks, and support victim of this horrifying crime, sign the petition here, to ban the over-the-counter sale of acid in India.