Meet a Somali-American teen, Halima Aden, who’s efficiently creating a buzz on social media after winning the Miss Minnesota USA pageant with a hijab. Yes, you heard it right!
Aden, 19, of St. Cloud, glamorously stood out at the two-day pageant in Burnsville on Sunday night. While other participants were walking down the ramp in their usual attire like bikini during the swimsuit round of the competition, Aden stunned the audience by donning a fully covered dress. She was all covered from neck to ankle and was wearing a colourful headscarf, showing only her face. Aden wore a “Burkini”, becoming the first fully covered Muslim woman to compete in the state pageant.
“The hijab is a symbol that we wear on our heads, but I want people to know that it is my choice. I’m doing it because I want to do it,” said Aden to Star Tribune. “I wanted people to see that you could still be really cute and modest at the same time.”
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Aden, who never took part in a pageant before, decided to participate this year to counter negative stereotypes that hold back Muslim women and their choices, the wrong ideas that persist in society about Muslim Americans, Somali-Americans and Muslim women. And, what could be a better avenue than a beauty pageant to bust some of those misconceptions?
She’ll compete again at the 2017 Miss USA competition, representing the state of Minnesota and then Miss Universe.
“I think part of the problem is they’re not interacting with people who are Somali,” Aden told TV station WCCO, about those who hold negative conceptions of Somali-Americans in Minnesota. “There is not one description of beauty, that in fact it has different faces, different stories, and different background, and it’s important to embrace all of those,” Aden added.
Aden did not have a normal childhood. She was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, and with her parents was emigrated to Minnesota — a popular place to settle for Somali immigrants. When her mother got to know about her intention in going for Miss Minnesota USA, as like any other Somali community members, she did not support her cause, according to an article in the Star Tribune.
“This pageant is so much more than just beauty. Their whole message is being confidently beautiful, so I didn’t think that I should allow my hijab to get into the way of me participating,” Aden said to MPR News. “This is a great platform to show the world who I am … just because I’ve never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to be the first.”
And as usual, social media sites are lashing out at her for entering the competition.
However, Aden is a strong believer of change and hopes to bring in the right message through her gesture. She has been wearing the hijab almost her entire life and follows her religious and cultural beliefs wholeheartedly.
The Miss USA pageant is broadcast on Fox.
Feature Image Credit: MPR News
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