Halima Aden, the Somali-American model who rose to fame as the first female contestant in Miss Minnesota USA Pageant to wear a hijab and a burkini, considers it a modelling fraternity that undermines her values.
Halima Aden, the Somali-American model:
The 23-year-old shared a collection of Instagram storeys documenting the inner strife that came with her line of work while juggling her identity as a Muslim woman.
“I can only blame myself for taking more care of the opportunity than what was actually at stake,” she said.
Fashion was NEVER for me. I am for the PEOPLE! I am for my IMAAN! I have WOKEN UP!!! https://t.co/kuzoZLfgZi
— Halima Aden (@Kinglimaa) November 25, 2020
She posted a photo of herself from the advertisement she did for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, in which she gave her black hijab, saying, “(Rihanna) made me wear the hijab I carried in. This is the person I’m going back to the real Halima.”
She criticised the culture as a whole and the fact that she was a minority in a minority,” adding, “What I blame the industry for is the lack of Muslim women stylists.”
In an interview last year, Aden spoke a lot about feeling lonely and what it meant to be the most high-profile humble model.
“Fellow Muslim sisters would send me DMs and even publicly tag me at the beginning of my career to say ‘stop dressing like an old woman’… which made me feel like I was doing something wrong… I remember wanting to be a ‘hot hijabi’ as if it wasn’t just defeating the whole purpose,” she said. “A hot mess is exactly what it was.”
Aden said that she frequently put herself in uncomfortable positions-including skipping mandatory prayer hours in the Islamic faith and agreeing to be draped with a pair of jeans instead of a headscarf to shoot the American Eagle Outfitters.
“But this isn’t even my style?? Never was. Why did I allow them to put jeans on my head when at the time I had only ever worn skirts and long dresses?”
I went back to my hotel room, and after this shoot, I just sobbed because deep down, I knew it wasn’t. Yet he was too afraid to speak up. The reality is that I was really uncomfortable. This isn’t me.”
Aden decided that she can model only if her hijab is noticeable in a manner that she finds acceptable.
“If my hijab can’t be that noticeable, I’m not going to turn up, period. This is the quality that goes forward if you wish to work with me. Come on, okay or don’t come at all.”
Here’s the hope that this would act as a wake-up call for fraternity to be more welcoming in the true sense of the word instead of merely finding Muslim talent as a symbol of representation.