A Minnesota woman is breaking boundaries in the modeling world, becoming the first model to wear a hijab and burkini for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
Twenty-one-year-old Halima Aden was born in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, but she grew up near St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The Somali-American model made history back in 2016 for becoming the first fully-covered Muslim woman to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant.
Aden went on to sign with IMG models.
In 2017, she made her New York Fashion Week debut in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 show.
Now, the Minnesota model is making history once again with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
According to Sports Illustrated, for Aden’s SI Swimsuit rookie spread, the model traveled to her birth country where she shot at Watuma Beach with photographer Yu Tsai.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Halima said during her shoot. “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.”
From landing the cover of British Vogue to walking on New York Fashion Week runways, Halima has proved that there is a place for modest Muslim women in the fashion industry.
“We believe beauty knows no boundaries,” said SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day. “I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for and her work with Unicef as an ambassador. She is, in my opinion, one of the great beauties of our time, not only outside but inside. When we met, I was instantaneously taken by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity.”
"We bonded immediately over the idea of her participating in this year’s issue” MJ continued. “We both believe the ideal of beauty is so vast and subjective. We both know that women are so often perceived to be one way or one thing based on how they look or what they wear. Whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, YOU ARE WORTHY.”