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Halima Aden on the cover of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit edition photographed by Yu Tsai

Halima Aden Becomes First Sports Illustrated Burkini Model

At CelebrityKind, we don’t generally care much about what people are wearing. But today it matters.

Halima Aden has become the first model to be featured in the pages of Sports Illustrated wearing a hijab and burkini. This. Is. Huge.

This is huge because representation matters.

This is huge because girls and women wearing a hijab are finally seeing themselves reflected in mainstream media.

This is huge because they are a part of this world, yet so many people still treat them as if they aren’t.

This is huge because normalising Muslim women in the mainstream is the only way we can we move forward from the hatred. The intolerance. And the fear.

“I can’t even tell you how this feels,” Halima says during the shoot in Kenya. “Growing up in the States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab. Now I’m like a bikini-babe – a burkini-babe!” 

The 21-year-old was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to the U.S with her family at the age of 6. She started making headlines (for all the right reasons) a few years ago when she became the first girl to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant and was immediately signed to IMG models. Not long after, she became the first girl in a hijab to walk international runways. And then the first hijab-wearing model to grace the covers of major magazines like Vogue Arabia and British Vogue.

Now, Halima is being featured in the 2019 Rookie Spread of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition wearing designer burkinis and head scarves.

As Halima says, “Don’t change yourself. Change the game!”


Nehal is an award-winning news presenter, author of "A Kids Book About Kindness Online" and founder of CelebrityKind. She has dedicated her career to creating connected and healthy spaces in the media. When she's not writing, you'll find Nehal hanging with family, dancing to Beyoncé, interpreting Taylor Swift lyrics or watching old eps of Oprah.

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