Somali Teen Halima Aden Is First To Compete In Miss Minnesota Pageant Wearing A Burkini

November 28, 2016  |  

At just 19 years old, Halima Aden is making history. This past weekend she became the first woman to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant wearing a hijab and also a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the competition.

The Somali-American teen was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Minnesota at just 6 years old. While many are commending Aden’s bravery in breaking down pageant barriers, she’s actually quite used to standing out in a crowd.

“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 Kare 11 news. That’s why when it came to wearing traditional attire for the Miss Minnesota pageant, Aden’s philosophy was “Be who you are.”

“It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”

Aden not only took a stand for herself as an individual while wearing her hijab and burkini during the competition, she also made a powerful statement against Islamaphobia, telling ABC news, “The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group. I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.”

Out of the 45 women who competed in the pageant, Aden made it into the top 15 but failed to land a spot in the top 5. She did, however, leave a lasting impact on pageant officials.

“I think for Halima standing on the stage this weekend she is showing other women that they too can do that and that it’s possible for them,” Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, told Kare 11. And that’s all Aden could ask for.

“A lot of girls were very supportive of what I’m doing, and that just makes it all worth it,” she explained to ABC news. “My advice to them is just be confident in your own skin, know that an extra layer of clothing does not define your beauty, because beauty is within.”

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