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Halima Aden is Sports Illustrated’s first model to wear a burkini and hijab in the Swimsuit Issue

“That’s always been my messaging: Don’t be afraid to be the first.”

Halima Aden is Sports Illustrated’s first model to wear a burkini and hijab in the Swimsuit Issue
Halima Aden [Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for UOMA Beauty]

Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue hit a major milestone in representation with Halima Aden as their first-ever model to wear a burkini and hijab.

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“This is literally a dream come true,” Aden says in a SI.com video. “Growing up in the States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab.”

Aden was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp and moved to the U.S. when she was seven. And if her name sounds familiar, she made headlines in 2016 when she competed, at 19, in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant wearing a hijab throughout the competition and a burkini for the swimsuit portion, becoming the first contestant to do so. Aden parlayed her semifinalist win into a modeling contract with IMG Models, which has led to her gracing the covers of Vogue, Elle, Allure, and now a historic spread in Sports Illustrated.

“It’s scary cause, like, it’s not my culture to do pageantry—it’s very much in American culture,” Aden says. “But that’s always been my messaging: Don’t be afraid to be the first.”

Read more about Aden here.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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