This 20-year-old hijabi model is Rihanna’s latest muse
Halima Aden, the IMG-signed Somali-American model, is totally redefining the society’s ideas of modesty and beauty.
She’s one of the first hijab-wearing models to grace covers and strut runways all over the world, and she’s now a face of Rihanna’s beauty line, Fenty Beauty.
Halima Aden, a.k.a @kinglimaa, is only 20 years old, and is opening doors for not only women of color, but women of faith.
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1. She’s only 5’5”.
Falling five inches short of the typical supermodel stature, Halima’s alluring presence, bubbly personality, and confidence is what fashion influencers say makes her dominate the runways and magazine covers.
In 2017, she signed with IMG Models Worldwide, and then made her modeling debut at the Yeezy Season 5 show during New York Fashion Week.
2. She doesn’t want to let her culture down.
Halima was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Minnesota when she was seven years old with her mom and brother. As a Muslim woman with the platform she has, with over 400,000 Instagram followers, she expressed to Glamour the responsibility she has for her culture.
“Now I’m starting to feel a lot of pressure; people are looking to me to represent Muslim women,” she said, “and the last thing I want to do is create a negative image. But I’m up for the challenge, and I’m finding my own path.”
3. She never wanted to be a model.
Coming from a household where getting an education is valued, and a community that doesn’t typically support her career, modeling hasn’t always been an aspiration for Halima.
In 2016, Halima decided to participate in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to have an opportunity at the college education scholarship awarded and to hone in on her philanthropy interests. Additionally, she wanted to showcase her confidence and modesty without having to bend the pageant rules. The pageant sent her on a path toward modeling.
“The stereotype is that Muslims want to come to this country and change the rules,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “That’s the opposite of what I want. I just want to participate.”
Halima wowed the audience and wore her hijab throughout the whole pageant. Although Halima did not take home the Miss Minnesota title, she had no idea she would soon become a top model the following year. She had fashion influencers shook when she wore a burkini (a modesty swimsuit for women, covering the whole body except for the face, hands, and feet) for the swimsuit portion of the pageant.
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4. She has a passion for people.
Halima believes discrimination is a problem happening all over the world. In an interview she mentions that in her childhood refugee camp “race didn’t matter, gender didn’t matter, religion didn’t matter. When life is stripped back to its barest essentials, everyone is one and the same.”
Due to her humbling upbringing, Halima encourages people to forgive those who are introduced to negative stereotypes of Muslims on the news.
“It’s not an excuse to be racist or prejudiced but, at the same time, I understand where that fear is coming from,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.
Due to the lack of public figures she was able to look up to, Halima serves as the role model she never had to other young girls and women. By staying true to herself and her values, Halima inspires all women, whatever their shape, size or color, to be themselves.
5. She has goals beyond fashion.
To focus on her modeling career, Halima has decided to take off a semester at St. Cloud State University.
She’s been taking the fashion industry by storm and Business of Fashion has recently named Halima one of the 500 most influential people in fashion. Halima has goals outside of the this industry, however.
“I’m okay to never do another modeling job again,” she’s said. Although she has been given many opportunities within the industry, there have been many jobs that she’s had to turn down due to their inflexibility to work with the unique requirements of her Islamic faith.
In the future, Halima wants to expand her work with UNICEF, a United Nations program that provides assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.