Halima Aden, an American fashion model broke boundaries by becoming the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Halima is a Somali-American and was born in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. She moved to the States at the age of six, where her appearance in Miss Minnesota USA first caught the eye of the media. Soon after she signed a contract with IMG models, finally making her New York Fashion Week debut in 2017.
It is not the first time this lady has created history. In 2016, Aden became the first contestant in Miss Minnesota USA to wear a hijab and burkini and managed to reach the pageant’s semi-finals.
The famous Sports Illustrated photo shoot, photographed by Yu Tsai, took place at Kenya’s Watamu Beach. Taking her happiness to social media, the model uploaded a picture from her photo shoot and captioned it – “Don’t change yourself…Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible. Being in sports illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to the community and to the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings…can stand together and be celebrated.”
Sending a strong message to the women out there, Aden portrays herself as a woman who stands out no matter what the situation is.
Sports Illustrated also shared a picture from the shoot captioned, “I am not forcing my hijab on others, I am not even preaching my religion. I am literally just wearing a swimsuit that I am comfortable in – says Halima.” The magazine also shared a video of Aden on Instagram where she said,”I never really felt represented, because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab.”
In 2018, Aden became the first Hijabi to be featured on a Vogue cover. The same year she also became the ambassador of UNICEF and focused her work around child rights. Since her modeling career began, she set non-negotiable terms regarding not removing her hijab and insisted her styling be done in a way which reveals the least.
Whether it was 2016’s pageant or 2019’s sports cover, Halima Aden has given out a message to women and the entire community that religion cannot hinder anyone’s career.