Halima Aden is the first model to wear a hijab in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Boundary-breaking 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.”
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 Beach.
“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.”
“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.”