Halima Aden is a 21-year-old model who was born into a refugee camp.
The American-Somali was the first hijab-wearing model to be featured on the cover of Vogue, advertise a headscarf for Nike, and be part of a Kanye West Yeezy presentation. She recently became the proud designer of 27 new headscarves.
So when Halima came to London to host the fourth annual International Somali Awards (ISA), we had to chat to her about Muslim identity and being part of the diaspora.
Where Halima is from in the US, Minnesota, has the largest Somali population but doesnt have many community events due to funds.
As a former refugee, I know firsthand the problems that the diaspora faces so to have a day like this as a celebration of the hard work and dedication that Somalis are putting in makes me so proud, Halima told Metro.co.uk.
Ive had a great experience modelling so far, its been scary too, I took a risk being the first Muslim woman to do x, y, z. Its scary to go into the unknown but now seeing so many girls enter the fashion industry wearing the hijab, its amazing.
After featuring on the cover of Vogue Arabia with two fellow Somali models Amina Adan and Ikram Abdi Omar, who was also at ISA, the trio were praised globally for representing black Muslim women.
It was a monumental occasion, added Halima. Its such an exciting time because representation is everything, its important to me and so many Muslim girls who never had that.
I want them to think “Oh I can do that now” or “I can go out and do this now”. Its not enough yet but its something.
In modelling theres like 10 hijabis and even with designers, there are more emerging and I have so much faith in the next five to ten years.
Last year, Halima was filmed having a conversation with her mum, who had reservations about her daughters fashion career. When asked how she navigates resistance from older and conservative members of the community, the model said its about open discussion.
I had the chance to explain why its so important to me, she explains. That conversation is so important.
In the beginning, I faced a little bit of criticism because people didnt understand modelling or fashion. Because its a different culture, its not a Somali thing.
But explaining why its important for anyone growing up in America who looks like me is a crucial conversation. My mum understood that and its impact.
Im not just a model either and thats helped with the elder community, like my work with UNICEF, Ive not forgotten where I came from.
She adds that its easier to be a visibly Muslim woman in the US now because people are not as scared about the hijab – but theres still a long wRead More – Source