3 of 6
The first African to become an international supermodel, Iman struggled with a low self-esteem as a child in Somalia. In her high school, there were about 450 boys and only 32 girls. "For the prom, every girl had more than one date," she says. "But I didn't have a single date. My father actually paid one of my cousins to take me." She was a straight-A student and, as the daughter of a diplomat, spoke five languages. While studying political science at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, she was spotted by photographer Peter Beard. When Beard showed his photos to the Wilhelmina modeling agency, they sent Iman a ticket to New York. The rest is history.
Iman retired from modeling after 14 years, at the height of her success. She knew the industry loves what's new, and "I wasn't new anymore. I was maturing, and the business was not enough for me." She married rock star David Bowie, had a daughter and founded IMAN Cosmetics for skin of color.
At age 48, Iman has learned to quiet the critical voice inside. "I don't know how many women stand in front of the mirror and say, 'You look good, girl.' We only see faults. We pick, pick, pick. But now I don't pay attention to that voice. I say, 'Aii,' and move on."