Halima Aden becomes Sports Illustrated's first-ever Hijab model to grace their highly anticipated annual swimsuit issue

Stereotype smashing Hijabi model Halima Aden, walks the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Stereotype smashing Hijabi model Halima Aden, walks the runway at New York Fashion Week.

As the winds of change start blowing more vigorously in the fashion and beauty industry, brands and long-existing publications are putting in the groundwork in order to ensure that their consumers and audiences are the ones that are blown away by their progressive strides. 

According to The Pudding, the Vanity Fair deputy editor Claire Howorth said in an interview that the shift in magazine cover choices and the aspiration they trigger "is not so much about material things but to a kind of cultural aspiration." 

This is why when in 2017, Somali-American model Halima Aden became Vogue's first-ever Hijab cover star, it was not only a moment for her, but for young Muslim girls who felt underrepresented in the world of fashion for so long.

READ MORE: Vogue Arabia's June cover star went from refugee to top model

This is the publication's first burkini-and-hijab clad model to grace their swimsuit issue cover.

In her Instagram post announcing the moment, Halima wrote, "Don’t change yourself.. Change the GAME!!"

"Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings … can stand together and be celebrated,” she continued in the heartfelt caption.

This is an apt caption given that this 21-year-old's game-changing moment comes at a time when Sports Illustrated has made diversity and representation an integral part of the campaign strategy. 

After decades of presenting women as various hypersexualised blonde mannequins, the brand finally gave us models who represent every kind of women. Yes, even breastfeeding moms.

READ MORE: Sports Illustrated's models are now also breastfeeding moms, Paralympians and plus-size beauties

In a video shared on Twitter by the history-making burkini babe, she says “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.” 

According to The New York Times, the editor of the swimsuit issue M.J. Day acknowledged in a comment to media that "women are so often perceived to be one way or one thing based on how they look or what they wear," adding that "whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, you are worthy.”

In the Twitter message above the supermodel also boldly declares, "Don’t be afraid to be the first.”

Halima's words are therefore something we can all take home today, especially from someone who has been dubbed a "stereotype smasher".

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