Fatima Siad is a famous Somali-Ethiopian fashion model who was placed third on ‘America’s Next Top Model’, Cycle 10. Already an emerging model known for her exotic beauty, grace and poise when she appeared in the American reality television series, she gained much appreciation and sympathy for the courage with she revealed painful personal details about her past on the show. Born into poverty in Somalia, she was also the product of a broken home. After her parents’ divorce her mother struggled to raise Fatima and her sisters all by herself. The family’s problems were further intensified by the Civil War in Somalia during which her two sisters were killed, leaving the distraught young girl alone with her mother. The mother and daughter migrated to the United States in the hopes of rebuilding their lives. The initial years in America were very difficult for the immigrants though she eventually made friends and focused on her studies. The thought of becoming a model had never crossed her mind, but as fate would have it, she soon found herself a budding fashionista. She auditioned for ‘America’s Next Top Model’ on a whim and got selected. On the show she revealed that she was circumcised as a child in Somalia and helped to shed light on the cruel practice many girls in Africa are forced to undergo.
Childhood & Early Life
She was born on 17 December 1986 in Mogadishu, Somalia to a Somali mother and an Ethiopian father. She had two sisters. Her parents had a troubled marriage and divorced when Fatima was quite young.
Her early life was fraught with tragedies and she grew up in difficult circumstances. Both her sisters were killed during the civil war, leaving her alone with her grief-stricken mother.
She was just seven when she was forced to undergo genital mutilation, a common but cruel practice in certain African communities. This incident would haunt her for years before she could gather the courage to share her painful story with the world.
Her mother was terrified for Fatima’s safety after the deaths of her other daughters and thus fled to the United States in an attempt to secure her lone surviving daughter’s future. Fatima was 13 at that time.
As a result of her traumatic childhood experiences Fatima became an insecure child, low on confidence and self-esteem. Her initial years in the United States were difficult for her.
She attended high school at Boston, Massachusetts. After school she went to Spelman College and then enrolled at the Bryn Mawr College in 2004. As a student, she was skinny and studious and had no plans whatsoever to pursue a career in modeling.
She studied pre-med and political science at the New York University for a while before returning to Bryn Mawr College to finish her education.
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Fatima had never been a fashionable girl. But when she was in college, some friends noticed her height, shapely figure, and poise and told her that she should become a model, an idea that had never crossed the nerdy girl’s mind so far.
She was tall, slim, and blessed with exotic features. Yet she had no idea that she was so beautiful! But she started dressing more fashionably at the insistence of her friends and soon gained confidence in her beauty.
In 2008, when auditions were held for the reality television show, ‘America’s Next Top Model’, cycle 10, she decided on a whim to audition for it. It was a last-minute, random decision and she was nervous. She easily cleared the audition and was selected as a candidate.
In order to go ahead with the show, she had to drop out of college. Initially she was afraid of her mother’s reaction, but was pleasantly surprised when her mother supported her wholeheartedly.
In the competition she received three first call-outs and four bottom-two appearances. She also won one challenge, in which she received 50 extra frames.
During the competition she faced many challenges as she lost her travel documents and had to miss a photo shoot. However,in spite of these issues, she proceeded further in the competition.
It was during the competition that she confessed the fact that she had been circumcised as a young girl in Somalia. This brave confession from her side garnered a lot of media attention and public sympathy.
Eventually she was placed third on the show, behind the winner 20-year-old Whitney Thompson, and the runner-up Anna "Anya" Kop. This competition helped to launch her career as a popular model and she attracted a lot of attention for her confidence, beauty and grace.
She is currently signed with IMG Models in New York City, Paris, Milan, and London, and Ace Models in Athens, Greece. During the Spring/Summer 2012 Paris Fashion Week, she walked the ramp for Dries Van Noten, Andrew Gn, Moncler Gamme Rogue and Hermès.
She has also been featured on several magazines including ‘Look Magazine’ UK, ‘CosmoGirl’, ‘Ebony Magazine’, and ‘Women’s Wear Daily’. She also did ad campaigns with Wildfox's ‘We're The Kids in America’ Spring Collection, Armani Exchange and Doncaster's Winter 2013 Collection.
Personal Life & Legacy
Fatima’s story is a typical rags-to-riches tale. Emerging from a difficult childhood, she has evolved into a confident and courageous young woman. She is very close to her mother who is her pillar of support.
A childhood victim of genital mutilation, she speaks openly about the practice and hopes that in future other girls will not have to go through this horrible experience.