Somali-American teenager Halima Aden is hoping to diversify the stereotypical image of beauty pageant contests and beauty in general. Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Minnesota at the age of six. Aden recalls not seeing many other women like her in the media growing up, and very few were positive.
“As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light, but you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”
Halima participated in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant running from November 26 to 27, she didn’t advance past the top 15 but still felt like she took a big win. Not wanting to compromise her values, she opted for a burkini rather than a bikini. The 19 year old doesn’t want to change who she is or what she believes in when competing in the pageant. She didn’t want to wait around for someone who was dressed like her or looked like her. Halima wants to be her authentic self and hopes to inspire other muslim girls who feel inadequate or don’t believe in themselves because of a false media representation. Halima wants to send a message to all girls letting them know everyone is beautiful without having to change who you are, especially in beauty competitions.
Halima is no stranger to breaking stereotypes and overcoming obstacles. She was the first Muslim crowned homecoming queen at her high school, St Clouds Apollo and was the first Somali-American to participate in the Student Government at her collage. Aden dreams of becoming a UN ambassador after finishing school, at St Clouds Apollo University. “What I wanted to do was just to give people a different perspective, we just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people’s eyes.” Halima hopes to inspire other girls like her and to break down barriers about Muslim women.
Aden has been breaking barriers since she made her name on the Miss Minnesota stage. She was since signed to IMG Models on a three year contract with a renewal. In February of this year she made her debut at New York Fashion Week for Yeezy Season 5. Aden is the first model to walk the runway wearing hijab and the first to be on the cover of Vogue Arabia and Allure. Aden will be be a preliminary and telecast judge of the Miss USA 2017 pageant.