Halima Aden made history last weekend by entering the semifinals of the Miss Minnesota pageant while wearing a hijab. The beauty pageant contestant also wore full-body modesty garment known as a burkini during the swimsuit competition.
A freshman at St. Cloud University, Aden chose to only show her face during the competition, with the intention of making a political statement.
“For a really long time, I thought being different was a negative thing. But as I grew older, I started to realize we are all born to stand out; nobody is born to blend in,” Aden told WCCO-TV, a Minnesota television station. “How boring would this world be if everyone was the same?”
Pageant executive co-director Denise Wallace told the audience that Aden was “making history” as the young Somali-American walked across the stage of the auditorium and took the spotlight.
Aden’s family emigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. She has spent most of her life wearing modesty garments, such as the hijab and other full-body-covering clothing.
“I support my daughter,” her mother, Rukia Aden, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the competition. “This was something new to me. I’m very happy to live in the United States where people are free and can wear what they want.”
The young Aden told told Minnesota Public Radio that she decided to compete to correct some of the negative attitudes and misconceptions about Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community.
“What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective,” Aden said. “We just needed one more thing to unify us.”