Halima Aden

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1 min read

Halima Aden was born September 19, 1997 and is an American fashion model. She is noted for being the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. Following her participation in the pageant, Halima received national attention and was signed to IMG Models.

She was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. She is Somali and at the age of six moved to the United States, settling in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She attended Apollo High School where her classmates voted her as their school homecoming queen. She is a student at St. Cloud State University. 

In February 2017, she made her debut at the New York Fashion Week for Yeezy Season 5. She later served as a preliminary and telecast judge of the Miss USA 2017 pageant. 

She has since walked for numerous designers, including Maxmara and Alberta Ferretti. She has also participated in the 2016 Milan Fashion Week and London Modest Fashion Week. Aden posed for American Eagle and British Glamour, and has a CR Fashion Book cover.

Aden was the first hijab-wearing model to walk international runways and to be signed to a major agency. In June 2017, she became the first hijab-wearing model on the cover of Vogue ArabiaAllure, and British Vogue.

In 2018, Aden became a UNICEF ambassador. Her work is focused around children’s rights.

In May 2019, Aden became the first model to wear the hijab and burkini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

This was not the first time in her career that she broke boundaries, further diversifying the industry to be more inclusive of Muslims. Aden stated on her Instagram that her appearance in Sports Illustrated sends a message to both her community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings can stand together and be celebrated.

Halima became the first black woman with hijab to be featured on the cover of Essence magazine, in 2020’s January/ February issue. 

Entering the fashion-designing world, Aden has collaborated with modest clothing brand Modanisa to design her own turban and shawl collection. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Aden stated that her collection is for everyone, whether they wear the hijab or not.

Aden’s modeling contract includes her hijab, as she has made it a non-negotiable part of her work.

Aden has spoken out about difficulties she faces in booking modeling jobs that are not accommodating to the fact that she wears the hijab. She described positive experiences as with Maxmara, where looks were specifically designed for her considering her clothing choices. Aden reaffirms that she does not need to conform to society’s standards in order to be a successful model.