Model Halima Aden is leaving fashion shows over religious beliefs


Almost four years ago, the Somali-American model made waves after becoming the first-ever Hijab-wearing model making big in the fashion world. The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many “firsts,” including being the first hijabi signed by a major modeling agency.

“I wear the hijab every day,” Aden, who was in New York for Fashion Week, had told Reuters.

The hijab – one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture – is going mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.

However, a couple of years down the lane, the now 23-year-old model has announced quitting fashion over religious beliefs. The model, according to The Guardian, said she is quitting runway shows because working in fashion has forced her to compromise her religious beliefs.

“I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake,” she wrote on Twitter.

The model shared a post of herself in a campaign for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, writing: “(Rihanna) let me wear the hijab I brought to set. This is the girl I’m returning to, the real Halima.”

In another post, Aden spoke about the feeling that comes from being “a minority within a minority”, adding: “What I do blame the industry for is the lack of Muslim women stylists.” 

Sharing her journey with the BBC Somali, she wrote in an Instagram post, “I’m so overwhelmed by all the sisters who have shared their own personal journey with their hijab/faith. I’m also so proud that it resonated with not just Muslim women, but really all of us girlies. I’ve never felt more seen and understood. Reminds me that we are all in this together.”

She went on to add, “A lot of you have asked how my mom brought it up and she basically made me rewatch an old BBC Somalia interview I did. The reporter asked me if I had any plans for fashion and I basically said, ‘Oh just for fun but never more than a side hustle.’ Tell me why I was more confident and at ease back then. My mother is the only one who knows me best and while to the outside world I appeared to have had it under control.. she knew I was slowly changing over the years. I was my most happiest and content back then. The irony of it all. I’m just grateful for finally recognising the gift I had all along and I hope this can be a reminder that it is never too late to reflect and make new moves.”

Last year, the model appeared in Sports Illustrated’s popular swimsuit issue as the first model in the magazine to wear a hijab and burkini, the magazine had said on its website.

The annual swimsuit issue, which debuted on May 8, is known for showcasing women in revealing bikinis. A burkini is a full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women.

Aden, who is Muslim, was born in Kenya at a refugee camp and moved to the United States at age 7. 

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