Fatima Siad, the second runner up from Season 10 of America’s Next Top Model is known for her striking beauty and outspoken attitude around top model stomping grounds. But behind all that fierceness is a tragic and often untold story.
Somali-born Fatima came to the U.S. when she was 13 years-old and revealed on ANTM that when she was 7, she experienced what up 140 million other girls have gone through: female genital mutilation.
Fatima spoke out on the show, telling the judges “I was circumcised. It’s a very traditional positive thing where I’m from.”
Though talking about the disputed practice brought tears to her eyes, right now Fatima is not necessarily focused on ending the practice, which is long-held cultural value in many parts of Africa. “I think culture is very important – I’m just trying to find a way to talk about it.”
Despite the laws against it, international human rights orgs have had trouble putting an end to FGM, because of its traditional and secretive nature, so Fatima may be on to something in her desire to approach it from a different way.
While she doesn’t support the tradition, she accepts that there may be a more functional way of helping young girls who are forced into it, like requiring it to be performed by a qualified doctor and reaching out to young girls who have already experienced it; “I want young girls to be able to express themselves because I feel like there’s a whole part of them that’s dead, and that they just don’t talk about it.”
Fatima has also talked about the backlash from people in Somalia, saying “I kind of knew that I was going to get a lot of negative feedback from people from my country, because as a Somalian woman you have certain responsibilities to not really talk about your culture with other people. It's something that's so sacred to us.”
But the Somalian stunner knew that speaking out could raise awareness in the U.S. and has dedicated her life to making sure no one in Somalia "goes through what I went through,” reminding viewers that the practice can be deadly.
Learn more about the plight of FGM  and check out Fatima in her own words below.
Then, tell us what you think -- Do you think speaking out on ANTM was the right way to go? Comment below!
Written with CGG Reporter, Caroline Kotter