Halima Aden is continuing to redefine the fashion industry's standards. The Somali-American just became the first hijab-wearing model featured in Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit issue.
“SI Swimsuit has been at the forefront of changing the narrative and conversation on social issues and preconceived notions,” Aden said in a press release announcing the issue. “I’m hoping this specific feature will open doors up for my Somali community, Muslim community, refugee community and any other community that can relate to being different,” she continued.
The UNICEF ambassador isn't a stranger to such firsts. She's made history as the first Miss Minnesota pageant contestant to don a hijab and a burkini on stage. Then, a year a later, she went on to sign with international modelling agency, IMG Models, becoming their first ever hijabi model, making her runway debut in Yeezy Season 5.
Aden is also pushing boundaries in the design world, debuting her first modest fashion collection this month. She's working with Modanisa, a Turkish brand that offers modest options to women across the globe. The model designed a 27-piece collection of hijabs, turbans, and shawls. Perhaps she'll one day expand to include modest swimwear, like she wore in her groundbreaking SI Swimsuit shoot.
“Young Muslim women need to know that there is a modest swimsuit option available to them so they can join the swim team, participate in swim class at school, and go with their friends to the beach," she said. "Muslim girls should feel confident taking that step and doing so comfortably while wearing a burkini.”
Back in 2017, as Aden began to embark on her modelling career, she told Refinery29 how important it was for her to be the change she wished to see in the industry. “It's important for me to show young women in my community and around the world that you don't have to change yourself or your beliefs to be successful in any avenue,” she shared at the time. “Stay true to who you are and I think you will find that the key players in any industry and those who are out to do big things will have you back and support you every step of the way. Knowing that I have impacted and set an example for young women is what keeps me going.”
Pick the SI Swimsuit issue up when it hits newsstands on 8th May.