Why Halima Aden is the model 2017 needs

4 May 2017
By Fashion Quarterly

Halima Aden (h)

She’s breaking boundaries of beauty

Everyone knows being signed by IMG Models is a signpost of great things to come. After all, they have both Hadid sisters, Hailey Baldwin and almost all of the Victoria’s Secret Angels on their books. But, perhaps the agency’s most important signing yet is Halima Aden, IMG’s first hijab-wearing model.

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The Somali-American beauty – who is a practising Muslim – first started making waves in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, when she rocked both her hijab and a burkini, finishing in the top 15. Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, she moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, with her family when she was six-years-old and last year became the town’s first Muslim homecoming queen.

Then came the cover of Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book, where Halima was shot by Mario Sorrenti and interviewed by her hero Iman, who is also Somali. It’s here that we really get to know Halima, who is clearly aware of the importance of her voice and platform, speaking of her ambitions to become a United Nations goodwill ambassador as well as the various issues that balancing modelling and her Muslim faith can bring.

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‘I got a lot of Instagram comments like, “Oh, you don’t have your neck covered, you’re not a Muslim!”’ she told Iman. ‘My thing is, stop judging women, especially if you’re a man because you don’t know the responsibility that comes with wearing a hijab.’

February’s AW17 Yeezy show, where Halima was cast by Kanye West, was her first runway. ‘I had the opportunity to briefly meet Kanye and Kim at my fitting yesterday, so that was fun!’ she told Vogue, a brief reminder that she’s just like any other 19-year-old, before she slipped seamlessly back to activist mode. “My goal is to send a message to Muslim women and young women everywhere that it’s okay to break stereotypes and be yourself,” she continued. “Always stay true to who you are – barriers can and will be broken!”

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And Halima’s certainly on the way to breaking them. After Yeezy came bookings at Milan Fashion Week, where she walked for Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara, befriending supermodels Gigi Hadid and Elsa Hosk in the process. Next, shoots for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue Arabia, and a plethora of press. And, of course, everyone wants to know what – as a Muslim living in America – she thinks of President Trump and his travel ban.

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“America has always been a land of diversity, basically made up of immigrants, and that is something I want to see continued. It’s something I’m proud of when people think of America,’ Halima told Cosmopolitan. ‘What I do is I always try to educate myself about my neighbours, about the people I meet. I think that’s something that our president could do.

“We all have different things that make us strong and weak, but if we communicate and we really open ourselves and open our hearts, you’re going to be amazed by the things that you can learn. Everybody that comes from a different culture, they always [know] something that you’ve never thought of. Something that you could use, you know? So just educate yourself.”

Something tells us that Halima is going to be responsible for educating a whole lot of people and we’re totally on board with that.

This article was first published on The Debrief.
Photos: Getty Images, Instagram

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