On her 21st birthday in June 2017, Resham Khan was attacked with sulphuric acid. The Manchester-based university student experienced left eye damage and burns across her arms, legs, face, and shoulder. Her story went viral when a friend of hers created a GoFundMe to raise donations for her and her cousin, Jameel, who was also attacked.
In the four months that have passed, she has been documenting her recovery on her namesake blog. There, she recently posted a makeup-free photo baring her scars in an effort to show her followers that, although she may look completely fine, there is so much the camera doesn’t capture.
“I know many are watching my recovery or may be going through something similar, looking at themselves and wondering when they will improve,” Resham wrote. “First of all, I just wanted to make clear that what you see on the internet isn’t real. Just like the photos.”
She had the idea to do a makeup-free selfie when she got a ton of compliments after posting photos of herself glammed up to celebrate Eid al-Adha. It was the first time in a long time that she decided to try a full face of makeup. Yes, she looked gorgeous, but she emphasized that there was a lot of work behind the scenes.
“In terms of applying makeup, it has become so much harder. It hurts a little to apply, and I found applying makeup a bit of a struggle so didn’t do too much,” she wrote, explaining that she had to wear an extra layer or two of foundation and more concealer over raised areas.
“I miss being able to have fun with shadows and liner. And my heart longed for a pair of fake eyelashes. But with time and the help of my doctor, I hope it’s one day achievable.” She added that her eyebrows have been burned so she couldn’t shape them and contouring was only possible on one side. “It might sound confusing, but trying to explain the little things that made makeup a challenge isn’t easy,” she continued.
She felt emotional over her final results. “I looked in the mirror and I felt like I looked like the old me again,” Resham said. Then, she went on to admit she actually edited the photos on an app, BeautyPlus, and adjusted the brightness. She also pointed out she took photos on her “good” side which has scars, not the side with “a mix of scars, pink, burns, hard skin, raised skin, and my dodgy eye.”
The whole point of taking the makeup-free selfie was to show others who are suffering that there is still a long road. “Please don’t see my photos and go into despair or try to achieve something that may not be possible,” she pleaded. “It’s hard. I’ve loved the compliments but the harsh reality is it is not real…I can’t keep pretend[ing]to be someone I’m not.”
Resham also posts unfiltered, unedited photos of herself on Snapchat, and also launched a petition to end acid attacks. Her story is heartbreaking, yet inspiring and necessary. It takes a lot to bare not only your makeup-free face, but also expose all the ways you edit yourself to look better on social media (something everyone is guilty of doing). We applaud Resham for stepping up so that others in her place feel less alone.