Model Halima Aden shattered yet another barrier in the fashion industry this week, becoming the first Black woman in a hijab to grace the cover of Essence magazine.
Halima, who is Muslim, is featured on the front of Essence’s January 2020 issue. The 22-year-old, signed to IMG modeling agency, has been making historical strides over the past several years: In 2016, the Somali-American made headlines as the first Miss Minnesota contestant to compete in a hijab and burkini. As her modeling career took off, she’s since been the first hijab-wearing woman to be on the cover of Allure and Vogue magazines.
“It’s important for me to be visible and to do whatever I can to let girls know that they don’t have to change who they are,” Aden, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, told Essence. “I want them to know the world will meet them exactly where they stand.”
Earlier this year, Aden became the first Sports Illustrated model to pose in its famed swimsuit Issue wearing a burkini and hijab.
“As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light,” Aden, who came to Minnesota at age 6, told HuffPost in 2016.
“Not seeing women that look like you in media in general and especially in beauty competitions sends the message that you’re not beautiful or you have to change the way you look to be considered beautiful,” Aden said. “And that’s not true.”