Hamdia Ahmed made history this week when she became the first Muslim woman to compete in the Miss Maine pageant and wear a hijab. Ahmed is an aspiring model whose Instagram bio reads: “Born in Somali, raised in a refugee camp in Kenya” and also “looking to get signed to a modeling agency and be discovered soon.” If that isn’t multifaceted, we don’t know what is.
Pageants have long had problems with diversity. In addition to racial diversity, size diversity has always been an issue in the industry, and the bikini portion of the pageant continues to irk many women. Ahmed wearing a hijab is a necessary step towards the inclusion and representation that the traditional pageant circuit is missing. During the swimsuit portion, Ahmed wore a pink and black burkini.
“I was born in the middle of a civil war, and raised in a refugee camp. I want to inspire girls to feel confident, beautiful and to chase there dreams no matter where your from. I have always wanted to become a model since I was a little girl, and I hope to get signed soon. Representation is so important,” Ahmed shared in a recent Instagram caption.
Ahmed is not the first model to walk a pageant wearing a hijab, though she is the first in the Miss USA pageant in Maine.
Currently, only a handful of Muslim women have donned a hijab or a burkini in any major U.S. pageant show.
Many brands have started to incorporate models with hijabs into their campaigns, and we seriously hope that it’s in the name of inclusion and not pandering. At any rate, Ahmed has killer bone structure and clearly knows her way around a photo shoot, so we have high hopes for that modeling career she covets.