A STUDENT who nearly died after suffering horrific burns is following her lifelong dream to become a model.
Labonya Siddiqui's parents were told their beautiful eight-year-old daughter would not survive the 40 per cent burns she received after a kerosene lantern exploded in her face, engulfing her whole body with flames.
But brave Labonya, 21, pulled through against all the odds.
Fearful she would be shunned her mother initially sheltered her from the outside world while her body recovered.
But after moving to Burnley age 11, Labonya was finally allowed to go to school.
However she said once her classmates realised what she was hiding underneath her thick headscarf, she ended up being bullying and lost her confidence.
Then, age 18, she finally found the courage to reveal her scars to the world and pursue her childhood dream of becoming a model.
She has since posed for dozens of photographers and has done shoots for everything to high fashion, burlesque and bridalwear.
Labonya was born in Iran and raised in Bangladesh by her parents, who are both doctors at Blackburn Royal Hospital.
She said Bangladesh suffered frequent power cuts when she was growing up and kerosene lanterns were a common form of alternative lighting.
Labonya said: "I remember at that age I had a fascination with fire and one night I was playing with a match while the maid refilled the lantern with kerosene.
"All of a sudden the match slipped out of my fingers and the lantern exploded, covering me in fire. The maid was uninjured but I was completely engulfed.
"I was paralysed with the pain. I couldn't get up but I couldn't even move my eyes and I couldn't breathe. Thankfully my mum saw me burning and dragged me to the closest water source - she saved my life."
Labonya spent the next five days in a coma during which time doctors told her parents she was unlikely to survive her devastating injuries.
But the little girl pull through, spending the next three months in hospital.
Now, Labonya is proud to show her scars, saying they mark her out as a survivor. She hopes that through her modelling work she can inspire other burns sufferers to see their own inner beauty and finally accept their scars, as she has hers.
Labonya, who is studying for a chemistry degree at Bradford University, said: "It's taken me a long time to come to terms with my scars but in the end I realised that if you don't have confidence in yourself that anyone can take advantage of you and make you feel bad about yourself.
"I had always dreamed of being a model, ever since I was a child, but after I was burned it stopped being an option. Now my modelling work is my way of supporting the burns survivor community across the world, by representing them and their families.
"I hope to inspire other survivors and to let them know that there is nothing wrong with them. Having scars, to me, is no different than having a tattoo.
"My ambition is to eventually become a chemist but I hope I can continue modelling as well as it's my way of supporting the burns survivors community.
"I hope that other survivors will see my photos and it will let them know that there's nothing wrong with them. A few survivors have been in touch with me to thank me for encouraging them to wear tank tops and revealing dresses and I'm proud to be helping others get over their own insecurities about their bodies."