“Only two years ago, I couldn’t find a magazine with someone who dressed like me who was wearing a hijab inside. Forget the cover or anything. Just inside. I couldn’t find that.”
These are the words of model Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing fashion model to walk international runway shows. Aden is one of many women who are participating in the highly-anticipated second iteration of TIME Firsts, presented by Ford, a series that debuted in 2017 with 46 profiles, including Hillary Clinton, Oprah, and Selena Gomez.
Aden and her family fled Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya and finally, to America. In Minnesota, wearing a hijab was nothing short of rare. But Halima did not wear her’s in fear. She was crowned Homecoming Queen. She competed as the first fully-covered Muslim woman in the Miss Minnesota pageant. She was a semi-finalist. She was unafraid.
“I got backlash from both my American community … and people who are Muslim.” But Halima was not deterred. Here, Halima Aden shares her journey.