Halmia Aden wears hijab in Sports Illustrated

Somali-American model Halima Aden just made history by gracing the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue wearing a hijab and burkini. The Kenyan-born model said it was a “dream come true.”

Sports Illustrated announced the newest member of its “Swimsuit family” on Monday. The iconic magazine said for Aden’s swimsuit spread, they chose the perfect place: her birth country. Her photoshoot was shot on Watamu Beach with photographer Yu Tsai.

Aden opened up about how much the photoshoot meant to her in an interview with SI. “Growing up in the states, I never felt represented, because I could never flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,” she said.

She spoke about living in a refugee camp in Kenya until the age of seven. She then moved to Minnesota, where she began making history at a young age as her town’s first homecoming queen.

She then went on to become her college’s first Muslim-Somali student senator. “After that, I remember thinking, ‘What next?’ And that’s when I came across the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.” Aden was the first to wear a hijab in the pageant in 2016.

a boy wearing a hat: RIP to boundaries, because Sports Illustrated is breaking down all of them with its annual Swimsuit Issue. This year's edition is set to feature its first Polynesian model, Veronica Pome'e, in addition to 53-year-old icon Paulina Porizkova, and now the magazine is announcing its latest boundary-breaker: Halima Aden. The Muslim model will make history in the 2019 issue as the first to grace the publication's pages in a hijab and burkini. And, boy, does she look stunning!
Halima traveled to her birth country of Kenya for the photo shoot, wearing custom-made burkinis by Cynthia Rowley and No Ka'Oi while posing on Watamu Beach for photographer Yu Tsai. While reflecting on the accomplishment in a Sports Illustrated video, the Somali-American model expressed excitement to represent modest Muslim women. "Growing up in the United States, I never really felt represented, because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab," she said.
The 21-year-old model initially made waves back in 2016 when she became the first woman to proudly wear a hijab and burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Since then, she's gone on to sign with IMG Models, be the cover star of British Vogue, and own the New York Fashion Week runways like an old pro. Keep reading for a sneak peek at her gorgeous, history-making Sports Illustrated debut, and be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine when it hits newsstands on May 8.

Related slideshow: Halima Aden Stuns in a Hijab and Burkini (Provided by Popsugar)

Aden said pageantry is outside of her culture, but she took a leap of faith and tried it out. Ever since, her motto has become “don’t ever be afraid to be the first.”

The model has since landed on the cover of British Vogue and walked during New York Fashion Week. She’s hasn’t just been professionally successful, but is also working to expand of the traditional definition of beauty, SI noted.

“[W]hether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty,” the magazine wrote.

In her interview with SI, Aden said she was in disbelief that she got this opportunity. “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,” Aden said.

The model shared a shot from her photoshoot on her personal Instagram, writing an inspiring message in the caption: “Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!!”

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