Halima Aden Becomes First Model to Wear Hijab and Burkini in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue
Halima Aden has achieved a very impressive and admirable first.
Although, to be candid, it says something a little sad about society that it has taken this long.
But that’s a different point entirely.
The 21-year-old, who is a former Miss Minnesota USA semifinalist, is one of several models featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue.
However, Aden stands out for the following reason:
She is the first model to wear a hijab and burkini for the shoot, the national publication revealed late on Monday.
In images snapped by American photographer Yu Tsai, one of which we’ve posted below, Aden stands in the water on Watamu Beach, looking gorgeous against a backdrop of cliffs as she wearts two custom-made burkinis, a black one by No Ka’Oi and a multicolored one by Cynthia Rowley.
The photos were taken in Kenya — which is where Aden was born into a refugee camp and lived until she was 7 years old.
Pretty incredible, right?
And sad, of course.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden tells Sports Illustrated, adding:
“So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya – I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”
It really is one of the most inspiring we’ve heard in a long time.
Sports Illustrated has said that this year’s Swimsuit Edition theme will be “shattering perceptions, as editors have aimed to depict a “diverse sisterhood of women.”
“Having Halima as a part of SI Swimsuit is yet another example of the range and scope of the type of beauty that exists,” SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day said in a statement.
“Her participation and inclusion further highlights the brands commitment and belief in supporting women to own who they are and what makes them unique and ultimately reaffirms what our messaging has been, that YOU are worthy.”
Aden is proud of these photos, of course, but she hopes they will impact change far beyond the pages of the magazine.
“SI Swimsuit has been at the forefront of changing the narrative and conversation on social issues and preconceived notions.
“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,” Aden said in a statement of her own.
“This feature is proving that a fully covered hijab wearing model can confidently stand alongside a beautiful woman in a revealing bikini and together they can celebrate one another, cheer each other on, and champion each other’s successes.”
Concluded the model:
“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.
“Muslim girls should feel confident taking that step and doing so comfortably while wearing a burkini.”
The Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue hits newsstands on May 8, 2019.