Halima Aden Goes Where No Hijabi Has Gone Before

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Halima Aden Sports Illustrated
Photo: Courtesy of Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

With modest fashion making its way into mainstream media, across advertisements, and on the runway over the past few years, it was only time before a high-profile burkini spread hit the stands. Last night, Somali-American supermodel Halima Aden took to Instagram to share that – once again – she had made history, posting a breathtaking image of herself from the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

Defying the typical aesthetic of the magazine (read: microscopic swimwear), Aden stayed true to herself and proved just how inclusive fashion can be. That shot of her in the sea-toned ‘Freedom Flight’ kimono by Camilla and ‘Madam Butterfly Luxe Turban’ by Julia Clancey? Pure mermaid perfection. There’s also a color-block look designed by Cynthia Rowley and an all-black No Ka’Oi ensemble with beaded accents to look forward to.

Halima Aden Sports Illustrated
Photo: Courtesy of Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

The photoshoot was an emotional homecoming of sorts for Aden. She spent the first seven years of her life at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya before migrating to America, only to return 14 years later to Watamu Beach, where photographer Yu Tsai was behind the lens.

She is the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab and pose in a burkini for the magazine in its 55-year history, and we couldn’t be more excited. “Growing up in the States, I never felt represented because I could never flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,” said Aden in a behind-the-scenes video that was shared on the magazine’s Instagram account. And with that signature infectious laugh, she added, “I’m a burkini babe.”

Yes, you are.

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