Halima Aden


Groundbreaking Muslim supermodel Halima Aden has made history once again by becoming the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

In 2016, Aden became the first contestant in Miss Minnesota USA to wear a hijab and burkini, ultimately reaching the pageant’s semi-finals.

“There are so many Muslim women that feel like they don’t fit society’s standard of beauty,” she told CNN at the time.

“I just wanted to tell them it’s OK to be different, being different is beautiful, too.”

She shared a similar sentiment at her Sports Illustrated shoot. “Growing up in the United States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,” she said in a behind-the-scenes video. “Don’t be afraid to be the first.”

Credit: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

Aden, who is Somali-American, grew up in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, before moving with her family to the US at the age of seven.Her Sports Illustrated shoot, photographed by Yu Tsai, took place at Kenya’s Watamu

“I keep thinking (back) to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden told the magazine. “So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya — I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”

Credit: Yu Tsai/SI Swimsuit

Again, this isn’t the first time Aden has made history — or even the first time this year. In March, she was one of three black hijabi models featured on the cover of Vogue Arabia — the magazine’s first group hijabi cover — alongside Ikram Abdi Omar and Amina Adan.

In April 2018, she broke new ground in British Vogue, as the first hijabi woman on the cover.”I empower women by staying true to myself and also encouraging them to go out and not be scared to be the first,” Aden told CNN on International Women’s Day in March. “If you don’t see yourself represented in any given field, take it upon yourself to be the one.”

Credit: CNN

For the first time in history, three black Hijabi models were featured on the cover of Vogue Arabia, the April issue. Models Halima Aden, Ikram Abdi Omar, and Amina Adan were photographed by Txema Yeste and styled by Vogue Arabia fashion director, Katie Trotter, with a focus on shattering stereotypes associated with modest fashion and Muslim women.

This is the first cover for Abdi Omar and Amina Adan, and Halima Aden’s second since she was featured on the cover of the magazine’s June 2017 issue. In the Vogue Arabia article that accompanies the cover story, Aden said, “I think it’s important to remember that wearing a hijab is a woman’s personal choice. It doesn’t make her any better or worse than another Muslim woman. To me, it symbolizes modesty and gives me a sense of power.”

They spoke about their experiences as young Muslim women and the discrimination that comes with that identity. Adan, who is the first Hijabi model signed to a Danish agencysaid, “Most people are afraid to ask questions and have a conversation about it, even if they are genuinely curious. All they know about Muslim people stems from the news or videos on the Internet about women not having the same rights as men.”

The effort to better represent Muslim women is not lost on fashion fans around the world, and many had a lot to say about the cover and its significance. Gigi Hadid praised the cover on Twitter, saying, “Vogue Arabia is really out there showing people how it’s done.” Another Twitter user said, “Somali girls singlehandedly putting Vogue Arabia on the map the power and international implications!!!” On Instagram people were posting and praising the cover, too. One user posted “Happy #MuslimWomen’s Day! Today We celebrate with the historic all-hijabi/Somali women Vogue Arabia Cover!” Another user posted the photo of the cover with the caption, “Use the power of fashion and magazines to make society more inclusive.”

This year it seems fashion’s attempts at more representation and inclusion are picking up pace.


Credit: Teen Vogue