Meet Halima Aden.
The Somali-American teen is breaking down barriers in the pageant community. On November 26, the 19-year-old made history as the first-ever contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a traditional hijab and burkini.
The young Muslim woman – from St. Cloud, Minnesota – won a competition over the weekend, sending her to the semi-finals. Halima says: “A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it, so growing up I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing.”
The teen – who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to America when she was just 6 years old – took the stage in a navy blue embroidered burkini during the swimsuit segment. For the formalwear portion, Halima looked simply beautiful in a black-and-red gown featuring a skirt printed with blooms.
She is hoping that her appearance in the pageant will help change America’s perception of Muslim people. The St. Cloud State freshman adds: “The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group. I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.”
Denise Wallace – the director of Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA – concludes: “The organization continues to evolve as women evolve. The Miss Universe organization is proud to be the forefront of the diversity of beauty.”