Halima Aden, the hijab-wearing Somali American model, said she is leaving runway fashion shows because the fashion industry has forced her to stray away from her religious beliefs.
In a series of Instagram story posts, the 23-year-old spoke about how the job made her more detached from her identity.
“I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake,” wrote Aden, one of the first models to wear a hijab while representing mega fashion labels.
Despite her success as a Black Muslim woman in the industry, Aden said she often felt pressured, as she described feeling uncomfortable during photoshoots.
She said a break due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic “opened” her eyes.
“I have finally realized where I went wrong in my personal hijab journey,” said Aden, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to the US at seven.
In a separate post depicting Aden with her mother, she said: “I’m taking a stand for myself but I’m also taking a stand for all the people who lost their soul to fashion.”
“We will never need your representation,” she added.
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Aden became the first hijab-wearing model on the runways of Milan and New York and has appeared on numerous magazine covers and in print campaigns.
Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, she moved to the United States with her family at age 7 and was the first Muslim homecoming queen at her high school in Minnesota, the first Somali student senator at her college, and the first hijab-wearing woman in the Miss USA Minnesota pageant.
The Somali American model first made headlines in 2016, when she was the first woman to wear a hijab – a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion – in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Since then she has appeared on the cover of British Vogue and on runways at New York Fashion Week.
Aden was the first model to wear a hijab and full-body burkini in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. The spread was shot at Watamu Beach in Kenya.
Twitter users hailed the model for taking a bold stance against the industry.
— Sulekha (@_ahkelus) November 25, 2020
Halima Aden be spilling the real tea and I'm surprised major news outlet hasn't caught up with it. But the way she speaks highly of her mother…yep. That's love.
— budak burger (@ezzahrants) November 26, 2020
I don’t know how much more bluntly I can put this: Halima Aden’s big stories on hijab are so important. Literally listen to Black Muslims, firstly. But secondly, so many Muslim women need to see her posts, especially during a time when the hijab has lost its meaning
— Mariam (@mariam4prez) November 26, 2020
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