For many people, social media is meant for mindless scrolling, but for a few out there, social media is the only tool to reach like-minded people and join each other on a journey for the greater good of humanity.
Getting on social media makes you feel very vulnerable because there are all kinds of netizens who are busy judging people, slurring abuses and commenting mean things on posts. On a platform that makes hatred and trolling extremely prominent, Anmol Rodriguez wants to use social media to reach out to the youth of India via engaging content and inspire them with her motivational videos. The tool she is using for this is Likee -- a global short video creating app owned by Singapore-based BIGO Technology, and her initiative is called #Likeedreams.
Rodriguez endured an acid attack by her father when she was a two month old infant. The father poured acid on her and her mother intending to end their lives. While her mother succumbed to her grave injuries, the infant was left behind to face the world alone. Life in general, became hard for the young girl, and she had to go through various surgeries to suppress the impact of acid on her body. She lost an eye and continues to lead her life with a disfigured face. She was sent to an orphanage where she spent her childhood with a hope to craft a better future.
However, the impact of the trauma was very deeply felt by Rodriguez when the children of her age did not mingle with her. And even later, people kept her at bay as she didn’t meet the “accepted standards of beauty”. With the zeal to turn her life around, she secured a job but had to quit it as she faced discrimination at the workplace as well.
Though disheartened, Rodriguez continued with her education and eventually met a teacher -- Kiran Gandhi -- who was treating her well, unlike most others. She was amazed to see Gandhi’s affection towards her, and it changed her perspective towards life. Her pain had lost its power and her focus was reset -- she now wanted to achieve her dream of becoming a model and uplift others with positivity.
The girl draws her inspiration from the love and affection she receives on Likee platform and strongly believes that even if she can impact one person’s life via her Likee videos, her efforts have paid off. So far, Rodriguez has more than 42,000 fans and on an average gets 10,000+ likes on each video. She wishes to reach out to more people and is working her way up to become the first commercial acid attack survivor model and dedicate her life to uplift the spirit of acid attack survivors.
Through #Likeedreams, she wants everyone out there to love and embrace themselves the way they are. “We’ve suffered enough already, we don’t want people to judge us and delude us further,” says Rodriguez. She adds that sympathy is something that survivors or victims are showered with and she completely understands that it is a very natural feeling, but she wishes that along with their sympathy, people also extend their support to them and don’t discriminate them. “Sympathy is something that comes very naturally to humans, but we acid attack survivors want more than that. We want support and acceptance because what happened with us was not our fault, why then are we sidelined? We are aware of the existence of the scars on our body, we have accepted them and so do other people,” she says.
So how does it feel to be a role model for many? Being an acid attack survivor, she is grateful that people see her as a role model but at the same time, she urges people not to take her as an inspiration because of her harsh past. Rather, they should draw inspiration from her journey -- the way she has conquered these obstacles to become an actor, model and social media influencer.
Likee, a global short video creating platform has given her a voice so that she could be open about herself, without having to hide her face from others and spread good messages to society through her videos.
Rodriguez likes keeping herself busy. So when asked what her future endeavours are, she is quick to respond that she has a few things lined up for the future, but her followers will just have to be patient for updates.
With Chhapaak getting rave reviews from critics and audiences, Rodriguez says that the movie is giving hope to survivors. “Mainstream media is a powerful tool because of its massive reach. The movie not only portrays the story of a survivor, it is also an outlet for people to understand the pain, agony and suffering of the victims and give them a voice,” says the social media star who feels that when more and more people come up, connect and tell their stories of survival, the world becomes a better place. It is something that every human being deserves.