Halima Aden is the first woman to rock a hijab and burkini in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and the photos are stunning

Model Halima Aden can now add another first to her long list of accomplishments, because she just became the first Muslim woman to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition wearing a hijab and burkini. For the shoot, the 21-year-old Somali-American model stuns in a colorful collection of swimwear, as well as a swimsuit that covered most of her body as she poses in the Kenyan waters of Watamu Beach.

In a behind-the-scenes SI video, Aden called the opportunity a dream come true.

"Growing up in the States, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab," she said.

Aden, who grew up in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya before moving to America when she was 7, said returning to the country for the historic shoot was a surreal experience, adding, “I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”

The model also posted a powerful message on Instagram, urging other young women to change the game, not themselves.

"Ladies anything is possible!!!" she wrote. "Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings... can stand together and be celebrated."


Aden’s fellow models, including Ashley Graham, Winnie Harlow, and Gigi Hadid, praised her on social media for single-handedly shattering the glass ceiling.

"Halimaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Yes. Yes. Yes," Graham wrote in the comments section, followed by Harlow who commented, "Game CHANGER."

This is just one of many boundary-breaking moments for Aden, who also made history as the first-ever contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant in a hijab and burkini in 2016. With SI under her belt, there’s no telling how many more of the industry’s outdated norms she’ll shatter.

Aden’s issue of Sports Illustrated hits stands on May 8th.

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