In a series of historic Instagram confessions, Somali American supermodel Halima Aden opened up about her hijab journey and quit “bowed out gracefully” from runaway modeling because it forced her to compromise her religious beliefs as a Muslim woman. The 23-year-old made headlines as a successful Black Muslim woman who had turned cover girl for British Vogue and Vogue Arabia and even appeared on runways at New York Fashion Week.
Using the Covid-19 quarantine time to reflect on her values and make new moves, the glamour girl who wore was one of the first models to wear a hijab at mega fashion shows, said, “I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake.” She received online support from Rihanna and model sisters Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid.
Halima’s journey has been a landmark in itself from being born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moving with her Somali parents to America at the age of six to appearing as a sem-finalist wearing a headscarf for representation in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant in 2016, at the age of 18. From there, Halima rose to star in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty campaigns and Kanye West’s Yeezy brand and even featured in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue last year, wearing wear a hijab and full-body burkini.
Halima stated at the onset of her confession that Rihanna had let her wear the hijab that the former had brought to the set. Sharing a picture of that shoot, Halima wrote, “This is the girl I’m returning to. The real HALIMA (sic)” and punctuated it with a red heart.
The singer shared the post on her own social media handle with the supporting words, “Love you so much Queen @halima (sic)” which turned the model emotional as she replied, “my whole heart (sic).”
Asserting that her journey had been “with lots of highs and lows”, Halima revealed that she had suffered bullying at the hands of white kids due to her head covering which made her go home and cry. The same happened in fashion industry when after a shoot, she went back to her hotel room and cried because she was made to take off her hijab but was “too scared to speak up”.
Speaking highly of her mother, Rukia Ahmed Aden, for advising “deen over dunya” always, Halima shared that she had asked her to quit modeling a long time ago but she was defensive. Yet, her faith was the strongest around her family and her “hijab was on point when I was surrounded by my Somali culture”, which was the last time she was genuinely happy.
Realising that she had gotten carried away, Halima shared pictures of denim hijab and of covering her head with a jeans or layers that were not headscarf. “As if we needed these brands to represent Hijabis. THEY need US. Never the other way around (sic),” Halima wrote while adding that this desperateness for representation back then and her naïve and rebellious self had made her lose touch with who she were.
Halima has deleted certain Instagram posts and the makeover of her social media handle now features a monochromic hijab silhouette as the display picture. Admitting that she was uncomfortable with a lot of shoots, heels and wearing substitutes for hijab, Halima decided it was time to “correct” her “mistake” publicly and her ever since been feeling “more free and relieved.”
“I’m not rushing back to FASHION” she wrote as she made note to never skip praying on Islamic time. “Fashion can wait. My DEEN can not,” she wrote. “Cancel me? Who gone cancel me? I’m bowing out gracefully (sic)” Halima added in another Instagram story.
Hijab is a lightweight head covering worn in public by some Muslim women. Hijab usually covers the head and chest and is worn by Muslim women as a part of their religion, in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family .