While pageants are definitely a point of contention in this day and age (as in, many find them to be sexist and totally outdated), its comforting to know that they can sometimes serve a greater purpose beyond the contest themselves. Case in point, Miss Minnesota USA Halima Aden wears a hijab, making her the first Miss Minnesota to do so.
The pageant semi-finalist understands a great deal about what representation, especially in this form, means to the Muslim community. As Cosmopolitan points out, the teenager wanted to, “help fight the rampant Islamophobia taking root in this country” and saw herself competing in both a hijab and burkini bathing suit as a way to do so.
Aden did not end up winning a glittering crown. But, she won in a way that is far more profound than any physical award. She won because she put herself out there. She won because she stood up for a religious custom that some people may not understand and try to reject. She won because she gained exposure for her cause. The best part is, she knows that. Per Cosmo, “She hoped her participation would serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many different forms.” And, it inarguably did.
Beauty pageants might definitely trouble you due to the fact that they literally entail judging women — often times based on how they look (ugh). But, rest assured that while young, Aden is painfully aware beauty is more than skin deep.
When speaking about wearing a hijab, she said, “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.”
That’s pretty sage life advice — no matter who you are or what you wear. We are seriously inspired!