Nineteen-year-old Halima Aden has been turning heads throughout 2017. She’s been in the modeling world for a short time, and she’s making quite an impact. She is hoping to use her visibility to redefine beauty standards in American mainstream media.
Aden started making waves in 2016 when she competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant as the first model to wear a hijab. The following year, she was signed to IMG Models, making her the first hijab-wearing model to be signed to the agency. Aden has appeared in the Fall 2017 Yeezy collection in NYFW back in February, along with walking for Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti. She hit big with her cover shoot and story with Allure for their July 2017 issue. Her latest project is working with American Eagle and several other influencers, such as Iskra Lawrence, for their #ICan campaign.
“I think it’s almost surprising that we haven’t seen a hijab-wearing model. It should be normal. It shouldn’t be any different than any other model. It’s something that I wear, but it shouldn’t restrict me.”
– Halima Aden in an interview with BBC
Aden’s career doesn’t take away from her true focus: changing the way Muslims are represented in society. She was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, and then moved to Minnesota with her mother at the age of seven. She was raised Muslim and started wearing a hijab when she was eight. As one of the few mainstream Muslim models, she is determined to redefine beauty standards by showcasing women of her religion in their beauty.
“Being Somali, being a Muslim, it’s something that I’ve always been very proud of. I’ve noticed that over the years, it’s something that, in a way, I was almost scared to be because of all the misconceptions and stereotypes that were out there. This is my chance to show the world a different side to Muslims…that we are like your everyday types of people.”
– Halima Aden
Overall, Aden wants women of all types to accept their own beauty just as she has done. She has opened up about getting bullied during middle school, but explains that everyone at that age gets bullied. She didn’t let that stop her from pursuing modeling, even with her hijab and braces.
“My hijab is my crown, and it’s something that I bring to the table. It’s something that makes me unique. I feel like it shows the world who I truly am. If I’m going to be doing a catwalk…or everyday things, I’m going to bring that with me.”
– Halima Aden
Many brands are catching up with Western fashion. For example, Nike created a lightweight hijab, which Aden wore for her cover shoot with Allure. “I think designers should be happy with it because it shows that their company is empowering women from all different locks of life, different faiths, and I think that’s important,” Halima Aden said in an interview with BBC. Whether it is for the pursuit of inclusion or profit is still wary. In whatever case, it’s showcasing to audiences that fashion boundaries are breaking and starting to change the way beauty is perceived in society.