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When at the age of 13, Waris Dirie discovers that her father has decided to marry her off as the fourth wife to a considerably older man, the young girl realizes that she has no choice but to flee. In the middle of the night, she steals away from the desert camp of her nomadic family and makes her way through the rocky Somali desert to Mogadishu where she finds her aunt and grandmother in the chaotic bustle of the Somali capital. Her relatives manage to find her a job as a maidservant with distant relatives in the Somali embassy in London. There, she lives for several years completely cut off from the outside world, as if in a jail. When civil war breaks out in Somalia and the Somali embassy is closed down, Waris goes into hiding in the big city. During this time she meets the lively and clever sails assistant Marily who becomes her most trusted friend. One day while working as a cleaning woman in a fast-food restaurant, Waris attracts the attention of famous fashion photographer Terry Donaldson, and after some initial hesitation, agrees to let him take pictures of her. From that moment on, it's as if a fairy tale has come true: Donaldson opens the doors of the fashion world to Waris, and she ultimately becomes a well-known international model. Both the jet set and the press love this girl from a nomadic family. However, after years of success, Waris refused to repeat her Cinderella story during an interview to Marie Claire magazine. Instead she chose to tell the story of the day that changed her life forever: the day of her circumcision in the Somali desert at the tender age of five.

Starring:    Liya Kebede, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson, Anthony Mackie, Craig Parkinson
Studio Name:     Millennium Media
DVD Release Date:     07/19/2011
Rating:     R
Format:     DVD
Screen Format:     Widescreen
Run Time (in minutes):     120 minutes
Language:     English
Audio Tracks:     AC, Digital Sound
Shipping Weight (in pounds):     0.19
Product in Inches (L x W x H):     0.46 x 5.35 x 7.5

Price: $19.99

Joining the current rage for model memoirs is Dirie, a native of Somalia, who has for more than a decade stalked the world's catwalks and appeared in numerous glossy magazines. This, however, is no fluff-job dictated into a tape recorder on transatlantic flights, then recomposed by a hired gun back in New York. Rather, it is a striking account of a personal odyssey that began in the Somali desert, where Dirie grew up without shoes, living amid nomadic tribes and tyrannized by patriarchal strictures. As a pubescent girl, Dirie was circumcised, a procedure described here in chilling detail, before escaping an arranged marriage to stay with an aunt in Mogadishu. Landing a job as a house servant in London, Dirie struggled to launch a modeling career while dodging British immigration authorities and the dreadful results of marriages of convenience. At the end of this affecting and at times very entertaining book, Dirie's metamorphosis from desert nomad into jetsetting nomad culminates in a post as a human rights ambassador to the UN, where, these days, Dirie campaigns for the eradication of female circumcision and women's rights around the globe. It's easy to forget that Dirie's memoir is a book about someone whose success has come from posing for the camera. Indeed, it is Dirie's remarkable lack of narcissism or entitlement that makes her so captivating a raconteur.


This book is written well, in a plain but well-told style. In addition to enlightening people about FGM, it tells a story of great courage.


Dramatic, humorous, and uplifting, this international bestseller offers a self-portrait of a courageous woman whose spirit is as breathtaking as her beauty. "From the deserts of Somalia to the world of high fashion, (Dirie) battles oppression and emerges a real champion."--Elton John. of photos.


  • Genre: Biography + Autobiography, Freedom + Security / Law Enforcement, Social Science
  • Subgenre: Civil Rights, General, People of Color, Political, Women, Women's Studies
  • Date Published: October 01, 1999
  • Release Date: October 01, 1999
  • Publisher: Quill
  • Author: Waris Dirie, Cathleen Miller
  • Pages: 228
  • Format: Paperback

Additional Information

  • ISBN: 9780688172374
  • $12.99



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