Halima Aden has tackled some common misconceptions about hijab wearers.
The Somali-American star rose to fame in 2016 when she became the first contestant to wear a burkini and hijab, or veil, in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and in April 2019, made history when she posed in modest clothing for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.
Now, in a new interview for the January/February 2020 issue of Essence magazine, Halima explained that wearing a headscarf is just one way for Muslim women to practice modesty.
"Sometimes I think when people think of hijabs they think it has to be a black scarf, it has to be really basic. Just an abaya," she said in a behind-the-scenes video from her photoshoot, in which she made history as the first black female cover star to wear a hijab for the publication. "So, I want girls to know, whether you wear hijab or not, you can still look modest. Modesty is not just for one specific group of women."
Halima then went on to note that she hopes her photoshoot with Essence, in which she models an array of colourful outfits, will inspire others to stick to their beliefs.
"I think (this photoshoot) will hopefully inspire the little girls in my community. And hopefully they'll get the message that you don't have to change who you are, you don't have to conform. There's enough people who are willing to accept you, to work with you, just the way that you are," the 22-year-old said.
Elsewhere in her chat, Halima insisted she is pleased she wore a burkini during her first beauty pageant, especially in light of officials at seaside towns in France banning this particular kind of swimsuit, amidst ongoing controversy about Islamic dress in public.
"Burkinis were not allowed on public beaches. That is something that affects a lot of women. I wanted to tell girls in my community, 'If I can wear a burkini onstage alongside women who are walking in bikinis, there is no reason you should opt out of swimming.' A burkini is just another form of swimsuit," she added.
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