In March 2004, Waris was attacked in her home in Vienna, Austria.
From there, her modeling career took off, appearing in advertisements for top brands such as Chanel, Levi's, L'Oréal and Revlon.
In 1987, Waris played a minor role in the James Bond movie The Living Daylights.
She also appeared on the runways of London, Milan, Paris and New York City, and in fashion magazines such as Elle, Glamour and Vogue.
This was followed in 1995 by a BBC documentary entitled A Nomad in New York about her modeling career.
In 1997, at the height of her modeling career, Waris spoke for the first time with Laura Ziv of the women's magazine Marie Claire about the female genital mutilation (FGM) that she had undergone as a child, She later released other successful books including Desert Dawn, Letter To My Mother, and Desert Children, the latter of which was launched in tandem with a European campaign against FGM.
In 2009, a feature-length film based on Waris' book Desert Flower was released, with the Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede playing her.It was also nominated for a Film Award in Gold in the "Outstanding Feature Film" category at the German Film Awards, and won the Audience Award in the "Best European Film" category at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.Waris was born into a nomadic family in 1965 in Galkayo, Somalia.At the age of thirteen, she fled to Mogadishu in order to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man.There, she briefly lived with an older sister and her family.Waris along with a few relatives later moved to London, where she resided with and worked for an uncle who had been appointed Somali ambassador.