Earlier this year 19-year-old model Halima Aden made headlines for walking down the runway of Yeezy Season 5 while wearing her hijab. It all started in 2016 when Aden participated in the Minnesota pageant and competed wearing a burkini in the swimsuit section, rising to public attention. Hailed as a symbol of the growing diversity in the model industry, Aden manages to prove that you don’t always have to fit a cookie-cutter image to make it in the industry. With an industry that is usually very white washed, Aden wants girls “to be able to flip through a magazine and see someone who looks like them.”
Not only has she become the first hijabi model on the cover of Allure, but earlier this year she made history as the first hijabi model to be on the cover of an edition of Vogue. Breaking barriers wherever she goes, she also walked for Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti in Milan, modeling coats while wearing coordinating head scarves.
Aden has managed to turn a negative stereotype on its head, redefining what models can do. She has managed to use her unique situation (one that could have easily halted her career in modeling) to push herself into the spotlight and hopefully allow herself to stay there for awhile. Her frank reasoning for her decision to wear her hijab may inspire other hijabis to try their hand at the industry as well. In her interview with Allure she pointed out that “society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way, I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘you’re too skinny,’ ‘you’re too thick,’ ‘look at her hips,’ and ‘look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”
As for the future, Aden has some lofty goals working work with UNICEF “to help Somalia rebuild schools, museums, and sports stadiums after the wreckage of war.” As Aden continues to strut down runways wearing her hijab, she is a beacon of hope to many and reflects the diversity of this country.