21 September 2017

Kenya: Muslim Model from Kakuma Refugee Camp Makes History on Runway

Photo: Halima Aden/Instagram
Halima Aden at Milan Fashion Week.

Former refugee, Ms Halima Aden, is making history as the first ever super model to take the runway wearing hijab.

Ms Aden, 19, grew up in Kakuma, one of the biggest refugee camps in the world, before relocating to the United States with her mother when she was only seven.

She rose to fame after participating in the 2016 Miss Minnesota pageant, becoming the first ever contestant to compete in a hijab and burkini.

Since then, she has gone on to become one of the modelling world’s most famous stars, walking the runway for brands like Max Mara and Yeezy.

Ms Aden 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.

She told Allure M agazine that she started wearing the hijab at the age of eight by imitating her mother.

" Every little girl looks up to her mom so much – that’s your first hero,” she said.

In her interview with Allure , the successful model opened up about her rise to stardom, religion, and why she chooses to wear the hijab.

" Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way,” she said. “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”

Following her success in New York, she has walked on the international runways of Italian fashion houses Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti, alongside other supermodels Gigi Hadid and Liu Wen.

The hijab is now going mainstream, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.

" I am doing me and I have no reason to think that other people are against me, Aden said. "So I just guess I ' m oblivious.

Aden said she is content being a champion for diversity in the modeling industry, but in the future she hopes to return to Kakuma to work with refugee children.

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