Halima Aden is taking the fashion world by storm.
Soon after signing with IMG in 2016, the Muslim model made her New York Fashion Week debut for Kanye West on the Yeezy Season 5 runway wearing her hijab and a floor-length tan fur coat from the collection. It was a statement that not only turned heads, but got the industry buzzing about the stunning newbie who stole the show on the catwalk. Since then, she’s moved on to grace the covers of CR Fashion Book and Vogue Arabia, to name a few. On top of her fashion world successes, she’s also become a vocal advocate for the rights of Muslim women.
VIDEO: Halima Aden Is the First Hijab-wearing Fashion Model to Walk International Runway Shows
As the cover star of Teen Vogue‘s July digital issue, Aden spoke about her experiences being born into a refugee camp, competing in pageants in Minnesota, and eventually finding her fashion footing. Take a peek at the six things to know about Halima Aden.
1. She’s only 20 and has already made history.
When Aden signed with IMG, she became their first hijab-wearing model … ever. She also landed a shoot with CR Fashion Book. “I signed with the top modeling agency in the WORLD and still wore my hijab as my crown. Don’t ever change yourself … Change the game,” Aden wrote on Instagram after her contract was official. “I am so excited to join the @imgmodels family and spread the message that diversity IS beauty.”
Gigi Hadid, who is also signed to IMG, was quick to welcome her to the family. Not long after Aden’s CR Fashion Book snap was released, Hadid shared the photo on her Instagram. “HALIMA #CR10Paris,” she captioned it.
2. Aden competed in the 2017 Miss USA Competition.
The Minnesota teen made headlines when she competed in the state’s Miss USA competition wearing a hijab; she also wore a burkini during the swimsuit portion. After the competition, she wrote on Instagram, “Beauty isn’t a one size fits all. We need to celebrate everyone and welcome those who are different than us. This year has had so much negativity, it’s time to move away from the hate and learn to accept. I’m choosing LOVE because a nation that doesn’t stand together will fall.”
3. She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and didn’t have her sights set on becoming a model.
“I didn’t really have modeling in mind,” Aden, who later became an American citizen, told BoF. “I wanted to spread a positive message about beauty and diversity, and to show other young Muslim women that there is room for them.”
RELATED: All the Major Model Moments That Happened During Fashion Month
4. She already has over 34,000 Instagram followers … and counting.
Just one look at her Instagram feed will show you why. Aside from the stunning selfies she shares on the ‘gram, Aden also posts inspirational mantras … and she has a witty sense of humor.
5. She’s a student at St. Cloud University.
CNN reported in 2016 that Aden said her experience living in a refugee camp inspired her to become a UN ambassador one day. She wants to give back to children who faced the same adversity that she did.
6. She was discovered after making an appearance at an anti-violence rally.
After footage of Aden at an anti-violence rally in September 2016 went viral, the Huffington Post interviewed the activist about the event. During the interview, they noticed a pamphlet for the Miss Minnesota pageant, and decided to switch the focus of their story. The piece eventually caught the eye of fashion editor and stylist Carine Roitfeld, who booked her for the cover CR Fashion Book.
- 1 1. She’s only 20 and has already made history.
- 2 2. Aden competed in the 2017 Miss USA Competition.
- 3 3. She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and didn’t have her sights set on becoming a model.
- 4 RELATED: All the Major Model Moments That Happened During Fashion Month
- 5 4. She already has over 34,000 Instagram followers … and counting.
- 6 5. She’s a student at St. Cloud University.
- 7 6. She was discovered after making an appearance at an anti-violence rally.