Refuge to Runaway

“I didn’t get this career because I had the longest legs or because I was the prettiest girl. I got here because I had guts, and I was never afraid to be first." 

Halima Aden is a 21 years old American fashion model. What puts her apart from the other top models is that she is a Black-Muslim Somali American from Kenya. She was born and brought up in the Kakuma refugee camp. She moved to the United States and settled in St. Cloud, Minnesota at the age of six.

Her life back in Kakuma was filled with extreme poverty and her family had moved in hopes of better living conditions. However, her life in the United States was not a bed of roses either. She struggled initially as she could not speak English and would not  fit into the “cliques.” She also started wearing the Hijab, which resulted in her being subjected to digs and jokes by her peers.

Like any normal teenager, she was affected by it and would often participate in acts against her religion and beliefs to be able to blend in, but this internal struggle did not  last very long.

By 2016, Halima made peace with who she was and where she came from. She realised that true beauty is not in conforming to societal ideas, but believing that she is beautiful, just the way she is.. This is when she became the first hijab-wearing woman at the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant. She did not  win that year but what she was able to do was inspire people all over the world by simply staying true to herself.

Her bold move gained her recognition from top model agencies and that is  how her modelling career began. She went on to model on the runaways of Milan and the New York Fashion Week. She was also on many magazine covers, including the British Vogue.

She has often said in her interviews that modelling was never the plan; all she wanted to do was be the human representative of the power of diversity. Halima Aden has defied all odds and carved a niche amongst the fashion elite and changed the face of the industry, making her a trailblazer.