If you follow the fashion industry, you definitely know the name, Halima Aden.

At only 22 years old, Aden has already walked for Max Mara, Yeezy, and Tommy Hilfiger; rocked a burkini for Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit Issue; and appeared on endless magazine covers. As a Muslim model who wears a hijab, she’s broken barriers left and right.

But one barrier she’s still tackling? Demolishing the misconceptions around women who wear hijabs, particularly when it comes to beauty.

In an essay for Marie Claire, Aden took on the topic head-on and wrote,

“If you go to places in the Middle East or any predominately Muslim country, you’re going to see a lot of women wearing the hijab and a full-beat face. I mean, contour, blush, and everything! It’s our way of feeling feminine.”

halima aden runway
Aden walking for Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya

She added,

“There’s still a misconception that if you wear the hijab, you don’t care about your appearance. I wear one because it makes me feel comfortable and confident, but I love experimenting and doing the most with my makeup. Society needs to understand that just because a woman is wearing the hijab does not mean she’s all of a sudden losing her femininity.”

Aden’s rise to prominence as a model who wears a hijab has allowed the public to see the religious head covering in a new light. Instead of trying to work around Aden’s hijab, fashion designers have embraced it, often turning it into a fashionable accessory. While its significance should never be down-played, showing the hijab as stylish headwear has gone a long way in changing the long-held beliefs that Muslim women are being “forced” to wear one and that it is a symbol of oppression (as Aden has reiterated, she chooses to wear a hijab).

halima aden sports illustrated
Aden in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

Seeing someone like Aden become so pervasive in the fashion world is truly revolutionary. In the past, it would have been impossible to find someone like her in the pages of a magazine. And while the industry has a long way to go, these are important strides towards becoming more inclusive. And when designers and magazines move towards diversity, it’s a win for their brand and it’s a win for everyone.  These measures are the key to change and growth in our society’s acceptance of other cultures.

Aden is truly a trailblazer and is a worthy role model for Muslim and non-Muslim women and girls. She’s also an activist, and a huge part of her platform has been about increasing the visibility of the hijab and to help normalize it in the media. She has broken so many barriers already and stands poised to continue her crusade for fair and accurate representation in the fashion industry.

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