Halima Aden is the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in Sports Illustrated.
“I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,” she explained.
Aden’s photoshoot for the 2019 Swimsuit Issue was held in Kenya, where she was born and raised.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” she told the magazine. “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.
In 2016, the Somali American model became the first Miss Minnesota USA contestant to wear a hijab and burkini. She went on to model for the cover of Vogue Arabia in April 2019 and became the first hijabi woman on the cover of British Vogue. Among her many firsts, Aden wants all women to embrace their identities.
“Don’t change yourself…Change the GAME!!” she stated on Instagram. “Ladies anything is possible!!! Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings…can stand together and be celebrated.”