World's only hijab-wearing supermodel lifting the veil on stereotypes
Nineteen-year-old Somali-American Halima Aden is redefining beauty standards in an industry long-plagued by its lack of diversity.
It's also another sign the hijab, one of the most visible signs of Islam, is becoming more mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.
Nike announced the launch of a breathable mesh hijab in spring 2018, becoming the first major sports a traditional Islamic headscarf designed for competition. Teen apparel maker American Eagle Outfitters created a denim hijab with Aden as its main model. The youthful headscarf sold out online in less than a week .
It was only a year ago that Aden made headlines as the first hijab- and burkini-sporting contestant in the history of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
The bold move catapulted her career to new heights involving many "firsts" including being the first hijabi signed by a major modelling agency.
She kicked off her runway career at Kanye West's fashion show in New York last February and since then has been in constant limelight, from magazine covers to catwalks.
Her rise to success is even more notable given that she was born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya. She settled in the US at age 7 with her family, initially in St Louis.
She fondly recalled her time at the refugee camp telling Reuters: "Different people, different refugees from all over Africa came together in Kakuma. Yet we still found a common ground."
In America, she was an A-student and homecoming queen. Now, her ultimate goal is to become a role model for American Muslim youth."Call it naive. But I just think you know I'm doing me and I have no reason to think that other people are against me," she said.
Aden said she is content being a champion for diversity in the modelling industry, but in the future she hopes to return to Kakuma to work with refugee children.
After her high-profile appearances in New York this week, including featuring in a campaign for singer Rihanna's new beauty line, Twitter users have hailed a new role model.