People & Parties, Uncategorized

Halima Aden — the Somalian-American beauty queen breaking barriers

Of the 45 contestants that competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant on Sunday, no one made headlines quite like 19-year-old Somalian-American Halima Aden. The Muslim teen can proudly say that she broke barriers that night by becoming the first woman to wear her hijab during the competition. She even changed into a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the evening. Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, Aden and her family moved to St. Cloud when she was only 7-years-old. Growing up, Aden has experience first hand the struggle with images of Islamaphobia and the perception of Muslim people in the U.S. "The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group," Aden said. "I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women." Despite the stereotypes and a lack of representation of Muslim women in beauty pageants didn't deter the ambitious teen. “You don’t let being the first to do it stop you or get in the way,” Aden told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “When I see that there hasn’t already been somebody, I take that as a challenge for me to give it a try.” And although she didn't win the competition (she did however place in the top 15!) Aden hopes to use her platform to continue to make an impact and change minds about the way Islam is view.

Halima Aden wearing her hijab and a stunning evening gown at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Photo courtesy of: People.

“For a really long time I thought being different was a negative thing,” Aden told CBS Minnesota. “But as I grew older, I started to realize we were all born to stand out, nobody is born to blend in. How boring would this world be if everyone was the same?” “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,” she continued. “I wanted people to see that you could still be really cute and modest at the same time.” We were also happy to learn that the pageant organizers supported Aden's choice in clothing, stating that, "The organization continues to evolve as women evolve." Denise Wallace, the director of Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA added that, "The Miss Universe organization is proud to be the forefront of the diversity of beauty." By Kelsey Seepersad Banner photo courtesy of: Twitter @LeilaNavidi.

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