This past weekend, while you were stuffing your face with candied yams, 19-year-old Somali-American Halima Aden made history by competing in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Aden wore her hijab throughout the pageant and donned a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the competition. She is the first person to compete while wearing traditional Muslim clothing — and she looked amazing.
Aden was born in a Kenyan refugee camp but moved to St. Cloud as a child, where she is now a student at St. Cloud University. While she didn’t win (she did make it into the top 15!), victory wasn’t a priority for her. Rather, Aden wanted to dismantle stereotypes of Muslim women. “A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it. So growing up I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” she told Minnesota’s KARE 11 . Excuse us, we’re busy tearing up.
The St. Cloud University student broke some huge barriers and it seems that the pageant was supportive. Denise Wallace, the director of Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA, told Chicago’s ABC 7, “The organization continues to evolve as women evolve. The Miss Universe organization is proud to be [at] the forefront of the diversity of beauty.” This is definitely a big, positive step forward for Miss USA, which was formerly owned by President-elect Trump.
There’s definitely not a huge contingent of Muslim representation in beauty pageants, but Aden wasn’t afraid to compete. As she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "You don't let being the first to do it stop you or get in the way. When I see that there hasn't already been somebody, I take that as a challenge for me to give it a try."
(Photo: Alishba Kazmi via AP)
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