Halima Aden, a Muslim woman, is challenging women’s beauty standards in America as a contestant for Miss Minnesota USA.

A 19-year-old woman is the first to compete wearing a hijab and burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Halima Aden, a Somali-American student at St. Cloud State, says “I was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, and I left when I was six years old.”

Aden described how she was welcomed by the other contestants and gave advice to other girls. “A lot of girls were very supportive of what I’m doing, and that just makes it all worth it and my advice to them is just be confident in your own skin, know that an extra layer of clothing does not define your beauty, because beauty is within,” she said.

The contest was held over the weekend, with results released on Sunday evening. Aden was a semifinalist, placing in the Top 15, but didn’t make the cut for Top 5, however, she isn’t consumed with the thought of winning, rather, she wants to help disprove misconceptions of her culture. “The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group,” Aden said.

Continuing, she said “I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.”

A spokesperson for Miss USA says “the organization continues to evolve as women evolve” and is “proud to be the forefront of the diversity of beauty.”

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