Meet Halima Aden, the First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model in Hijab and Burkini

The Somali-American model grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to the states at seven

Halima Aden
Halima Aden will be SI's first burkini-wearing model. (Leon Bennett/ WireImage)

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Halima Aden is the first model to appear in Sports Illustrated’s storied Swimsuit edition wearing a hijab and burkini.

“I’m so… I can’t believe I’m here!” Aden said through a fit of laughter in a video promoted by the magazine of her on-location shoot in Kenya. “This is literally a dream come true.”

“Growing up in the states,” she added, “I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab.”

Aden revealed that she was born in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where she spent the first seven years of her life before immigrating to St. Cloud, Minnesota in the United States. From there, Aden said she “put herself out there” and made friends with her peers and was even nominated for homecoming queen. That confidence boost from her friends led her to continue breaking free from her comfort zone and towards becoming her college’s first Muslim-Somali student senator, she said.

“After that, I remember thinking, ‘what’s next?’” the 21-year-old said. “I’m so grateful.”

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