Picks and Pans Review: A Top Model's Nightmare

updated 04/07/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/07/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Somalian-born America's Next Top Model contestant Fatima Siad, 22, has viewers talking about more than her looks: She's speaking out about undergoing genital mutilation at age 7.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH BY TALKING ABOUT WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH? I want to be the voice for girls and women who undergo such a traumatic experience. I was told that I would be going through my rite of passage from a child to a woman. Don't get me wrong: I fully respect my culture and its beliefs. [But] I want to find better ways of ensuring the safety of these women. The reality is, many young women and girls die in the process.

HOW DOES THE EXPERIENCE AFFECT YOU TODAY? I thought I was just a normal Somalian woman and I never really thought about it until I came to college. [She moved to the United States. with her mother at age 13.] I really educated myself, and I realized what was done to me was wrong. I had never given my consent.

WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE SHOW? A different type of humor and intellect. And I bring a voice representing strong women.

From Our Partners