A few weeks ago while looking through one of my fashion mags I came across the name of Waris Dirie and Liya Kebede in reference to a film that was coming out based on the life of supermodel Waris Dirie to be played by current supermodel Liya Kebede. The basis of the article point how this film was to show the rise of Waris Dirie from a young nomad girl in the deserts of Somalia to a supermodel to an ambassador in the spreading the word about female circumcision or FGM (female genital mutilation). I immediately logged on to Amazon and purchased the book, thinking it would be great for my blog and to help share a story of inspiration from our African sister Waris Dirie.
The book is entitled Desert Flower and is the true story of supermodel Waris Dirie. She grew up in the deserts of Somalia with her family whom were nomads and herded goats and camels through the desert. At the tender age of 5 years old, Waris had begged her mother to be “a woman”, which meant being circumcised. In her culture this was a custom that was thousands of years old and there were no second thoughts given to it. A woman that was not “cut” was considered unclean and unfit to marry, and this certainly was not what any family would want with their daughter. Waris, unlike many girls she knew survived this and continued to live her life as a nomad with her family until she was set to be married. At the age of 12 she ran away from all she knew to avoid getting married – from the desert of Somalia to Mogadishu to eventually London where she was discovered.
Throughout the ups and downs of her life and career Waris became a supermodel but never forgot where she was from or what she came from. Waris was bowlegged as a result of riding camels much of her young life and as a professional model was often fired from jobs because of it. Her thoughts on this, “Well, these are my legs, and they’re a result of who I am and where I’m from.” Waris worked with many of the top designers and was in all the top fashion mags; too she was the first black model to work with L’Oreal. She also was in a James Bond movie, “The Living Daylights”.
Upon her travels, working, growing up and learning she found out that not all women were as she was. She grew up thinking that all women got “cut” and that this was a part of every woman’s life. She later found out how different she was. As her celebrity increase she felt it was her duty to do what she could to help prevent this from happening to any more girls and women the world over. With documentaries by the BBC, interviews in Marie Claire and on 20/20 she was able to share her story with the world. She at first was nervous to share this guarded and secret ritual of her culture but knew it was her duty. “Somebody must speak out for the little girl with no voice.”
Because of her stance on FGM she later became an ambassador to the United Nations. FGM is a Very serious topic and a very real life plague. African women are still in danger of being subjected to this custom, in Africa and abroad.
Waris says in her book, Desert Flower, “For people like that insecure bitchy art director, it’s tough to handle the fact that some women can be beautiful AND smart.” Waris truly proved that she was both of these things as well as courageous. Being a model and a supermodel for that matter is a privilege in its own right but only if you use it for something other than fame and fortune cause in the end none of that matters.
I suggest you read Desert Flower. While it isn’t the best written of books it is a great story of inspiration and a look at a black woman and African woman that has help to make a difference.I surely will be viewing “Desert Flower” the film when it is available in my area.
Below is the trailer:
To Learn more about FGM please go to the Waris Dirie Foundation:
“All I know is that my way of thinking is an African way, and that will never change.” –Waris Dirie
Peace, Love and VINTAGE!