Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, the Muslim Somali-American model returned to her birth country for historic photoshoot
Somali-American model Halima Aden has become the first Muslim model to appear in Sports Illustrated magazine wearing a hijab and burkini. She appeared in the swimsuit edition, out in May, wearing a number of different colourful burkinis, The Guardian reports.
The model told the BBC: “Young girls who wear a hijab should have women they look up to in any and every industry.
“We are now seeing politicians, business women, television reporters, and other successful hijabi women in visible roles and that is the message we need to be sending.
“The response has been incredible and I’m so honoured that Sports Illustrated has taken the step to showcase the beauty that modestly dressed women possess.”
Aden was born in Kenya at the Kakuma refugee camp where she lived until she moved to the United States.
The Sports Illustrated team decided to do their photoshoot on Watamu Beach on the Kenyan coast with fashion photographer Yu Tsai.
The significance was not lost on Aden who said: “I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp. 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.”
She’s no stranger to breaking boundaries. In 2016 she was the first fully-covered Muslim contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She was then signed to IMG Models and went on to become the first hijab-wearing model to appear on the cover of a major US magazine when she was featured in US Allure magazine in 2017.
Then in 2018 she was the first model of colour to wear a hijab on the cover of British Vogue.