Halima Aden, a 19-year-old Somali-American is the first woman competitor in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant to wear a hijab and model in a burkini.
"The hijab is a symbol that we wear on our heads, but I want people to know that it is my choice. I’m doing it because I want to do it," Halima said in an interview with Star Tribune. "I wanted people to see that you could still be really cute and modest at the same time."
While she made it to the top 15, she did not make it to the final 5. Photo: Facebook
Though she faced criticism for participating in a beauty pageant (including from her conservative mother), the St. Cloud State University freshman was not deterred by it, saying that she "would not compromising her religious principles of modesty to compete."
“We often tell the ladies that the swimwear competition is really won from the neck up,” said Libby Watkins, assistant director of the pageant. “The Miss Universe Organization, and the state pageant producers, always do our best to make it possible for the contestants to stay true to their upbringing and diverse backgrounds.”
While she made it to the top 15, she did not make it to the final 5. However, she is grateful for the support she received.The pageant contestant hopes to become a U.N. Ambassador. Photo: Facebook
"A lot of girls were very supportive of what I'm doing, and that makes it all worth it. This is a big win for us, I'm the first to do this. I want to give a quick shout out to all my Somali girls, know that you're beautiful and you're empowered and you can give anything you want a try," she said in an interview with ABC.
Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, Halima and her family immigrated when she was 6 years old. According to The Independent, the pageant organisers did not see the hijab or burkini as grounds to prohibit Halima from participating in the competition."The hijab is a symbol that we wear on our heads," she says. Photo: NPR.ORG
The director of Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA, Denise Wallace, said, "The organisation continues to evolve as women evolve. The Miss Universe organisation is proud to be the forefront of the diversity of beauty."Her participation in the pageant has affected her relationship with her mother. Photo: MJBSTAR
Halima hopes to become a U.N. ambassador one day and said, "You don’t let being the first to do it stop you or get in the way. When I see that there hasn’t already been somebody, I take that as a challenge for me to give it a try."
Here's to not letting clothes define women regardless of religion!