Waris Dirie

Image Courtesy Desert Flower Foundation

Image Courtesy Desert Flower Foundation

Waris Dirie, a Somalian model who was discovered cleaning a McDonald’s in Europe, has a truly empowering and tragic story.

In her culture, most women go through the painful, horrific mutilating ritual of FGM before they are married off at young ages.

Well, Ms. Dirie refused to let the customs catch up with her, and though she was violated, instead of marrying an older man, she promptly ran away. She made it to France walking barefoot and hitchhiking. She actually stoned a truck driver in self-defense.

Once in Europe, far from the relative safety of home, she made her way through menial jobs after menial jobs. She worked at various blah places until she was discovered by chance (and also, her own determined will) and soon became a top fashion model of the 90’s.

She didn’t stop her formerly one-person crusade against FGM, however.


From 1997 to 2003 she was a UN Ambassador.

In the early 2000’s, she established the Desert Flower Organization, which promotes women and their empowerment in Africa.

A movie version of her awesome story was made and debuted in 2009, with Liya Kebede playing Dirie.

Dirie is a true power player in the political/historical/fashion realms, and I have the utmost respect for her.

Signing off,



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