Somali American model Halima Aden, who made headlines in 2016 for being one of the first supermodels to wear a hijab, has announced her decision to quit the fashion industry. Trailblazer Aden revealed, in a series of Instagram posts, that she felt that being immersed in the world of fashion forced her to compromise her religious beliefs.
On the subject of taking modelling contracts that went against her religious beliefs, Aden wrote that “I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake” and she also cited a “lack of Muslim women stylists” for the reason that the true meaning of wearing a hijab was often misconstrued within many of the campaigns she was a part of.
Aden has written about the pressure she felt at being the first high profile mainstream modest fashion model, saying: “Fellow Muslim sisters would send me DMs and even publicly tag me at the start of my career to say ‘stop dressing like an old woman’… which made me feel like I was doing something wrong … I remember wanting to be the ‘hot hijabi’ as if that didn’t just defeat the whole purpose…a hot mess is what it was.”
An Exceptional Modelling Career
Aden had enjoyed a high profile modelling career, which began when she was spotted at the Miss USA Beauty Pageant by fashion editor Carine Roitfeld in 2016. She quickly went on to be signed to the global modelling agency IMG and her career highlights include walking for Yeezy at New York Fashion Week, working with Rihanna for her Fenty Beauty campaign, and becoming the first hijab wearing model to pose for Sports Illustrated.
Aden raised the profile of hijab-wearing women within the fashion industry through her work, and is now raising awareness of the issues hijab-wearing women often face when working in the fashion industry by leaving it: She should be rightly proud about the many conversations around race and modesty that have been sparked as a result of her work.