Halima Aden covers the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue looking radiant, fully covered and reppin’ as the first Muslim model to wear a hijab and burkini in the renowned magazine.
The magazine took Aden back to her roots and shot the dazzling spread in Kenya in the crystal waters at Watamu Beach. Aden is a Somali-American model who was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, according to the outlet.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden said during her shoot with photographer Yu Tsai. “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.”
Aden has been making headlines since age 19 when she became the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She later became a talent at IMG models and went on to make magic internationally by using helping to change the trajectory of thought behind traditional beauty standards.
“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.”
The Somali-American beauty has covered British Vogue and has made her mark on the catwalk at Fashion Week.
Aden’s cover will be released May 8th.
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Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!! Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings… can stand together and be celebrated. Thank you so much @si_swimsuit & the entire team for giving me this incredible opportunity.