Indian acid attack survivors sparkle at fashion show to spotlight equality

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Acid attack survivors pose during a fashion show to mark International Women's Day in Thane on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, March 7, 2018. (Reuters)
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Acid attack survivors walk on the runway during a fashion show to mark International Women's Day in Thane on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, March 7, 2018. (Reuters)
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Indian acid attack survivors walk during a fashion show as part of a campaign to spread the message 'Stop Acid Sale', in Thane on March 7, 2018, ahead of International Women's Day.(AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Indian acid attack survivors sparkle at fashion show to spotlight equality

MUMBAI: Sparkling in shades of green, pink and peach, Indian women survivors of acid attacks walked the ramp at a fashion show to boost awareness about violence against women.
Scarred faces held high, 11 members of a non-profit group showcased colorful Indian and Western garments, spoke about confidence and posed for photographs on Wednesday, a day ahead of International Women’s Day.
Laxmi, attacked in 2005 at the age of 15 by a 32-year-old man whose marriage proposal she rejected, was the showstopper of the event, held near India’s financial capital of Mumbai.
“I swept aside notions about the face, which society spoke of, and moved forward in life,” said Laxmi, whose plea against acid attacks prompted India’s Supreme Court to order regulations on the sale of acid in 2013.
“We don’t want respect, we want equality.”
More than two-thirds of the 1,500 acid attacks worldwide each year are estimated to take place in India, many by enraged family members or jilted partners.
Few victims report the attacks, for fear of reprisals by abusers, even though the resulting disfigurement often brings isolation and rejection.
“What others think about us does not have relevance, what we think about ourselves is only what matters,” said one participant, Deepmala Tiwary, an attack survivor and member of the nonprofit Acid Survivors and Women Welfare Foundation.


Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

Updated 22 May 2018
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Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

  • Lil Miquela posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA.
  • She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

LONDON: Miquela Sousa is a success story for the modern age. She is a 19-year-old fashion-world influencer from LA with over 1 million followers.

She posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA, and has released a handful of popular singles.

However, she doesn’t cast a shadow in any of her photos, because to have a shadow, you have to exist. And Miquela doesn’t exist.

Lil Miquela, as she is known, is a computer-generated image, the work of an LA-based artificial intelligence firm called Brud.

She’s been in “photoshoots” in magazines like Interview and Highsnobiety, but it’s not clear how those images are created.

She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her, or Brud, available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

Is it an attempt to manufacture an influencer, someone with a lot of social media followers who can spruik brands’ products? Is it a branding exercise for an AI firm?

To Ryan Shelley, a social media expert from the firm Pepper IT, the fact that interest has piqued recently around Miquela’s existence suggests the power of this particular piece of storytelling.

“Some people tune in and watch the Kardashians on TV,” he said. “People are tuning into Instagram and they are watching the self-realization of a robot.”

Instagram trades on the idea of authenticity — you follow someone because you want that behind-the-scenes insight into their life, but the arrival of Lil Miquela has resulted in a redrafting of the script.