Even though she’s just 19, Halima Aden is already used to breaking down barriers. Last year, Aden was the first Muslim student elected homecoming queen at her high school. She was also the first hijab-wearing model to sign with international modeling firm IMG, to compete in Miss Minnesota USA while wearing a burkini, and one of the first Muslim women to be cast and walk in a Yeezy fashion show at New York Fashion Week.
Now, Aden is once again making history, this time on the July cover of Allure, where she’s become the beauty magazine’s first hijab-wearing cover model.
“Meet Halima: Muslim. Model. Destroyer of Stereotypes,” the cover reads.
It is probably an understatement.
Aden, who is Somali-American, was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and came to the U.S. when she was seven. She told Allure she began wearing the hijab when she was eight years old, initially to copy her mom. Now, she told the magazine, she chooses to wear the hijab because that is her interpretation of her religion and modesty, though she recognizes other Muslim women might choose differently.
“Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way,” she told Allure. “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”
When Aden shared the cover on Instagram, she said it exceeded her wildest dreams, and thanked Allure “for showcasing and highlighting a young Muslim woman in the fashion world.”
“Doing things on your own standard and your own way—that’s powerful,” Aden said in an Allure video where she showed other young Muslim women how to model. “I get inspired every day, so I’m hoping where I get my inspiration from, other people will find that in me.”