Halima Aden doesn’t think the fashion industry would have embraced her five years ago.
The 22-year-old Somali-born model made history when she signed to IMG Models in 2017 and insisted in her contract that she is allowed to wear a hijab on the catwalk, something she made a non-negotiable part of her deal.
Halima never thought she would land her big break due to the lack of diversity in the industry.
She told Harper’s Bazaar: “I was living in Minnesota and was going to college. But I followed my heart, and when that call came from IMG Models, I went with my gut feeling and came on board. Before then, if you had asked me in 2015 or 2016 if I could have been a model, I would have told you no, that’s impossible.”
Halima doubted her looks and talent as she couldn’t spot another Somalian model on the runway.
She explained: “When you don’t see something, it’s hard to visualize it. A career like that, for someone like me, didn’t exist.”
Now, she has been fully embraced into the fashion world after the industry decided to revamp their famous faces.
She added: “It was really positive. A lot of people, especially in fashion, we’re ready for a new change, a new face. I never saw that kind of representation, a hijab-wearing model, before I came along. And to see all the changes in the short three years that I have been in the industry, like seeing a hijab-wearing model, has been amazing.
“This year, especially, I feel like every agency has a hijab-wearing model. We’re seeing so much representation, and it’s growing. It has surpassed me. It’s been quite the journey these last three years, but I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have people like Carine [Roitfeld] believing in me and my agent. I think the industry had changed in order for me to come along and find success.”
According to a previous report on The Sauce, Somali-American Halima made Sports Illustrated cover girl history rocking a hijab and burkini on the cover. The Muslim model who has worked runways across the globe landed the prestigious cover of the May issue of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition that championed diversity.
Halima was born at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya before moving to the United States at the age of seven, moving onto greener pastures in America with her family.