Halima Aden is making history by becoming the very first model to wear a hijab and a burkini on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated'.
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has always caught people's attention for many obvious reasons (have you seen the covers?). But at a time when minority visibility and representation have become crucial, it’s becoming more common for media and magazines to leave old-fashioned standards in the past and use their platform to inspire the new generations.
Little by little, the media industry has evolved and moved away from the classic stereotypical standards of beauty by featuring more and more diverse faces and realities. The latest example is Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue featuring supermodel Halima Aden wearing a hijab and a burkini. So, for a magazine known for its objectification of women's bodies, this is a huge step forward.
Aden has played a big role in increasing the visibility of Muslim women in mainstream culture. The 21-year-old Somali-American model was born at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. When she was only seven years old, she moved to the United States to live the “American Dream,” as she has stated. After growing up being marginalized and discriminated against, she’s taken the representation of her culture and identity as a banner and life goal, and boy, has she achieved it.
In 2016, she became the very first woman to wear a hijab in an American beauty pageant. She was soon signed by IMG Models, making her an international superstar in the industry. Just one year later, she became the first model wearing a hijab to appear in the cover of a mainstream American magazine (Allure), and in April 2018, she appeared on the cover of British Vogue, also as the first one. Now, she’s the first woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated wearing a hijab and a burkini, a highly controversial fashion item that was actually banned in France.
For Halima Aden, being able to model wearing a hijab on a major international publication is a matter of empowerment. As she once said, "I empower women by staying true to myself and also encouraging them to go out and not be scared to be the first." And she’s definitely making history by being herself and showing that beauty comes in all shapes, shades, and realities.
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