Halima Aden has a few global firsts to her credit

Halima Aden, the Somali-American model, created history again when her hijab and burkini clad picture appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine. She is the first Muslim model to appear in the magazine's May swimsuit edition. There were multiple photographs, with the Somali-American beaming out from every image wearing different colorful burkinis. This is the second time Aden created history. In 2016, she was the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA competition to wear the hijab-burkini combo. She reached the semi-finals of the pageant.

That Aden was elated is an understatement. In her interview with BBC, she said that young hijabi girls must have women they can idealize in every industry. There are now politicians, television reporters, and businesswomen who wear the hijab and successful in their respective careers. This kind of message should be sent. She expressed delight at the overwhelmingly positive response and told the interviewer that she felt honored to see that the Sports Illustrated has showcased the beauty inherent in modestly dressed women. In an earlier interview, the naturalized American said that many Muslim women feel like they are unfit when it comes to standard society beauty parameters. Aden, by her actions, wanted to tell these women that they can be beautiful by being different.

For the model, visiting Kenya for the photoshoot is a sort of a homecoming. She was born at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where she spent her early life before her family emigrating to the United States. Sports Illustrated did their photoshoot on Watamu Beach, a picturesque area on the Kenyan coastline. The significance was clear to Aden who pointed out that to come back to a country where at one point in her life she was a refugee is like living the American dream. Such stories, she stressed, cannot be fiction. The photographer at Aden's shoot was Yu Tsai, arguably one of the best fashion photographers around.

Aden has a few international firsts to her credit. In March this year, the Somali-American was was featured on the cover of Vogue Arabia with two other models of color. Incidentally, the photo was also the magazine’s first group hijabi cover. The other two models were Amina Adan and Ikram Abdi Omar. Aden was also the first hijabi to be on the cover of British Vogue in April 2018.

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