While the world might just be finding out about Halima Aden now (thanks to her Sports Illustrated shoot released in April), the hijab-wearing model has been a fixture on the fashion circuit for a few years. But who is Halima Aden?
Born in a refugee camp in Kenya to South Sudanese parents, Aden immigrated to America at the age of seven, eventually settling in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which had a large Somali population. Fast forward ten years and Aden entered her first modelling pageant, the 2016 Miss Minnesota USA. The twist? She wore a hijab. The rest is essentially history, with Aden appearing on the cover of top magazines within a matter of months. Below, we’ve broken down everything to know about the model.
She’s broken a LOT of records
Aside from being the first Somali American to be homecoming queen at her high school, Aden has been breaking records in the fashion industry since she started.
At the age of 19, Aden was the first hijab-wearing model to cover a major US magazine, fronting Allure in 2017. She went on to be the first women of colour to wear a hijab on the cover of British Vogue, which was released in 2018. She was also the first hijab-wearing model to sign with agency IMG, the same company that represents Gigi Hadid, Gisele Bundchen and Ashley Graham.
Yeezy helped put her in the spotlight
Aden made headlines when she opened Kanye West’s season 5 Yeezy show in New York in 2017. Wearing a floor-length fur coat and her hijab, the casting was one of the moments that really put the model on the map.
She’s now a Sports Illustrated model
Sports Illustrated, which is historically known for making a model’s career (think, Chrissy Teigen and Ashley Graham), is also known for being very thin and white. While that reputation is changing (with help from aforementioned models), Halima’s shoot with the brand cemented it.
Appearing in a swim shoot for the May issue, Aden is pictured wearing a burkini and hijab across the multi-page spread, a move which Aden (rightfully) calls game changing for the Muslim community.
“Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings... can stand together and be celebrated,” she wrote on Instagram.
It’s Halima’s world, we’re just living in it.
This story originally appeared on marie claire Australia