Halima Aden quits modeling Here’s Why
Halima Aden is a Somali-American Fashion model. Aden was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. At the age of six she moved to the United States settling in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Aden has spoken out about difficulties she faces in booking modeling jobs that do not accommodate to the fact that she wears the hijab. She described positive experiences as with Maxmara, where looks were specifically designed for her considering her clothing choices. Halima also reaffirms that she does not need to conform to society’s standards in order to be a successful model.
“LET’S SPREAD A POSITIVE MESSAGE ABOUT BEAUTY AND DIVERSITY.” – HALIMA ADEN
In 2016 she became the first women wearing a hijab to be in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist and the first contestant in the pageant ever to wear a burkini. Following her participation in the pageant, Halima received national attention and was signed to IMG Models. Aden’s modeling contract includes her hijab, as she made it a non-negotiable part of her work.
Halima also walked Milan Fashion week and London Modest Fashion week. In February 2017, she made her debut at the New York Fashion Week for Yeezy Season 5. She also was a judge of the Miss USA 2017 pageant. Since then Halima has walked for numerous designers, such as Maxmara and Alberta Ferretti.
Aden was the first hijab-wearing model to be signed to a major agency, and walk international runways. In June 2017, she became the first hijab-wearing model to be on the covers of Vogue Arabia, Allure, and British Vogue.
These are just some of the achievements that she broke boundaries with, further diversifying the industry to be more inclusive of Muslims.
In 2018, Aden became a UNICEF ambassador where her work was focused around children’s rights.
In April 2019, Aden collaborated with modest clothing brand Modanisa to design her own Turban and Shawl collection called Halima x Modanisa. She stated in an interview with Teen Vogue, that her collection is for everyone, whether they wear the hijab or not. The collection was released at the Istanbul Modest Fashion Week on April 20, 2019.
In November 2020, Aden announced in a series of Instagram Stories that she has quit being an ambassador for UNICEF and runway modeling, as it compromised her religious beliefs. She felt like UNICEF and the modeling industry, were using her for so long. Though since then she indicated that she would do modeling work as long as she could set the conditions. She received support for her decision from Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, and Bella Hadid. Aden later announced that she had planned to become the first Somalian woman to compete at Miss Universe.
During her modeling career she did not have much confidence in her Hijab, because as she grew up in America there was not much representation of people who look like her or dress like her. Aden was not able to relate personally to her own image during shoots and runways, following her to cry in her room after because she wasn’t able to speak up for what was right. Meaning that at one point she had jeans on her head as a hijab, and Gucci pants styled as a turban.
That’s not how her hijab really looks. Yes, fashion can be a very creative field, which Aden appreciates. But her hijab was just getting spread so thin she knew she had to give it all up. Halima wants to be the reason why girls have confidence within themselves, not the reason for their insecurity.
Aden had these feelings long before she quit; it just multiplied over the years until she finally took a stand. UNICEF have been photographing her and using her since she was a baby in a refugee camp. She remembers the headshots take of her and how it was very dehumanizing to her.
Aden does not know what the next step in her life will be, but she says that’s okay. As long as she is working with people who respect her for whom she is, where she can feel comfortable, and be valued.