Survivor of Acid Attack Pursues Fashion Education While Helping Other Victims
In India and other parts of South Asia, acid has often times been used as a weapon to exact revenge in domestic disputes. We met one woman who didn't let the violence stop her from pursuing her dream of attending fashion school in our city. NY1's Reena Diamante has the story.
A 19-year-old, living in India, Monica Singh said "No" to a man who proposed to marry her.
Shortly after she was attacked.
"It’s one of the deadliest days of my life, where my life changed forever just because I said no, and I don’t have a regret for saying no," Singh said.
A group of men doused her with acid while she was driving and 80% of her body was burned.
Singh has since undergone 46 surgeries.
"I can always cry about what happened to me, but life is not always about what already happened," she said. "Life is about what can be happened."
Part of Monica's identity was stolen that day in 2005, but she did not lose her dream to attend fashion school in New York City.
"When you wear something what you always like it brings a smile, it brings confidence," Singh said. "I always have to wear layerings and I have to cover my entire body, so that my scars are not visible. So fashion has always been there."
This week, Monica earned a degree in fashion marketing from Parsons School of Design.
On graduation day, she shared her story.
"And if I can do it anyone can," Singh said. "Congratulations class of 2016, we did it."
"Fashion has the power to uplift people and it’s so amazing that Monica is kind of using fashion as a platform because it’s not as shallow as people tend to think," said Michelle Alleyne, a professor at Parsons School of Design.
"I just have tremendous respect for her ability to just look at the big goal and ignore all those things and really work hard," said Bjorn Bengtsson, a professor at Parsons.
Last year, Monica founded the Mahendra Singh Foundation in honor of her late father.
Her mission is to raise awareness and provide support services to survivors of acid attacks, domestic violence, and abuse.
"Every darkness is a sign that there's going to be a sunrise again, so why, why always look for the darkness," Singh said. "So I decided to become a sunrise, I decided to become a happy person."
A happy person with no regrets for saying no.