Sports Illustrated is thrilled to announce the newest member of this year swimsuit issue as she poses in a hijab and a burkini. The stunning Halima Aden, is a young vibrant Muslim woman. This ‘burkini babe shows off the beauty of diversity in one of the most beautiful parts of Kenya.
Halima Aden has made history by becoming the first Muslim model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue wearing a hijab and a burkini.
The 21-year-old Somali-American was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, and she returned to her birth country for her first shoot with the magazine, which was photographed by Yu Tsai at Watamu Beach.
Sports Illustrated announced on Monday that Halima is the newest member of its 2019 rookie class while sharing some of the model’s photos from her historic spread featured in the upcoming issue, which will be released on May 8.
One image shows her lying on the wet sand wearing a colorful geometric print burkini. In another, she is modeling a red hijab and a custom-made burkini featuring a beaded mock-turtleneck and sleeves.
Halima lived at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya before moving to the United States at the age of seven, and she couldn’t help but reflect on her amazing journey during her shoot.
‘I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,’ she told Sports Illustrated.
‘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.’
‘This is literally a dream come true,’ she gushed. ‘I can’t even tell you how this feels.’
Representation is important for Halima, who grew up at a time when there were very few women who looked and dressed like her in the media.
‘Growing up in the states, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,’ she explained in the clip.
Halima is no stranger to breaking boundaries. In fact, she has been doing it since she was a teen.
‘In high school, I was my town’s first homecoming queen,’ she recalled. ‘I think that was my first glimpse of wow, I put myself out there. I made friends with my peers. They liked me enough to nominate me, and I want to continue that in college.
‘So, that’s exactly what I did. I became my college’s first Muslim Somali student senator, and after that, I remember thinking, “What next?” And that’s when I came across the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant.’
In 2016, she was the first woman to wear a hijab and a burkini in the pageant, where she placed as a semi-finalist.
‘I can’t even tell you what that moment meant to me,’ she said, recounting how the crowd roared when she stepped on stage.
Hamila admitted that she was scared they would boo or refuse to clap for her because she was wearing a hijab.
‘It’s scary because it’s not my culture to do pageantry. It’s very much an American culture. But that’s always been my messaging,’ she said. ‘Don’t be afraid to be the first.’
A year after the pageant, she became the first hijab-wearing model to sign with a major modeling agency. She signed with IMG in February 2017, and that same month she made her runway debut in Kanye West’s Yeezy show.
Hamila is continuing to her shatter perceptions about women who dress modestly by appearing in Sports Illustrated, a magazine that is best known for its sizzling spreads featuring scantily clad models.
In recent years, Sports Illustrated has proven its dedication to diversity by embracing models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, and her inclusion in this year’s issue is a ground-breaking step towards representation for more modest fashion.
‘We believe beauty knows no boundaries,’ said Sports Illustrated 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,’ she added.
The editor said that she and Halima ‘bonded immediately over the idea of her participating in this year’s issue,’ which marks the first time that such modest swimwear has appeared in the magazine.
‘We both believe the ideal of beauty is so vast and subjective,’ MJ said. ‘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.’
SI Swim has been celebrating a lot of firsts lately. This year, Winnie Harlow has become the first-ever model with vitiligo to pose for the magazine, while Veronica Pome’e is the first-ever Polynesian model to appear in the annual Swimsuit Issue.
Paulina Porizkova posed for the issue at age 53, making her one of the older models to grace the issue’s pages. (Meanwhile, Christie Brinkley posed for them at age of 63 in 2017.)
And it was only four years ago in 2015 that Ashley Graham became the first plus-size model to pose for the magazine, and she landed a cover just a year later.