Halima Aden: A Muslim Before A Model

If you don’t pay attention to the fashion world, you may never have heard of the supermodel Halima Aden.

Until, that is, she quit that world completely. Now more famous for choosing her religion over the fashion industry, Halima made a high profile decision that brought together female empowerment and faith.

Halima was the first supermodel to wear a hijab, and when she signed to the world famous IMG agency in 2017 her contract stipulated that she should never have to remove it.

Born in a refugee camp in Kenya and later moving to Minnesota, where she took part in Miss Minnesota USA in 2016. She became a semi-finalist, and this launched her career in modelling.

She quickly became a runway favourite, and starred in global campaigns representing brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, and Yeezy.

Charity remained close to her heart even when she left the refugee camp, and so Halima became a Unicef ambassador in 2018, with a particular interest in children’s rights.

But as much as she was able to have a high profile career and do charitable work, her world began to unravel as she noticed the ways her work and her faith would clash. Stylists would begin styling her hijab and making it a feature of her look for shoots, which she found to be a subtly creeping invasion of the limits she had set when signing her contract.

On top of this, Halima would find herself regularly missing out on religious festivals and time with her family. But it was one particular magazine cover which was the last straw.

When she saw herself depicted with her face largely obscured in an image that she felt dehumanised her – and with a naked man pictured in an article on the following page – Halima reached her decision.

In November last year, Halima decided to quit modelling altogether, saying it was no longer compatible with her Muslim faith.

While this did also entail giving up her Unicef role, she hasn’t looked back, and has been spending time with her family while taking a well earned rest.

Now planning her next move, she has also executive produced a film about a refugee from Afghanistan, called I Am You. We wish Halima the best of luck, and look forward to seeing