Halima Aden Makes History as the First Model to Wear a Hijab and Burkini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Halima Aden is the newest member of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit family, making history as the first Muslim model to wear a hijab and burkini in the magazine.

The Somali-American model was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, where she lived until the age of seven before moving to the United States. For her SI Swimsuit rookie spread, we couldn’t think of a more perfect place travel than her birth country, where she shot at Watamu Beach with photographer Yu Tsai.

“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Halima said during her shoot. “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.”

- Yu Tsai
Yu Tsai

At the age of 19, Halima made headlines when she was the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. She went on to sign with IMG models and not only became an incredibly successful international model, but a champion for the expansion of the traditional defintion of beauty as well.

From landing the cover of British Vogue to walking on New York Fashion Week runways, Halima has proved that there is a place for modest Muslim women in the fashion industry. 

At SI Swimsuit, we strive to continue to spread the message that whether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty.

“We believe beauty knows no boundaries,” said SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day. “I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for and her work with Unicef as an ambassador. She is, in my opinion, one of the great beauties of our time, not only outside but inside. When we met, I was instantaneously taken by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity.”

“We bonded immediately over the idea of her participating in this year’s issue” MJ continued. “We both believe the ideal of beauty is so vast and subjective. We both know that women are so often perceived to be one way or one thing based on how they look or what they wear. Whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, YOU ARE WORTHY.”

Be sure to check out the 2019 issue on May 8th to see Halima’s stunning photos!

 

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