Teen Wears a Burkini at the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant—and Totally Slays
A teenager made history this weekend when she became the first competitor in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini—garb that covered her from head to wrist to ankle—during the swimsuit round.
19-year-old Halima Aden sadly didn’t make it to the final five after baring her brave bathing suit Saturday night, but the Somali-American still accomplished her goal: To show women they shouldn’t be afraid to wear what they want.
“This pageant is so much more than just beauty,” Aden told Minnesota Public Radio before the competition. “Their whole message is about being confidently beautiful, so I didn’t think that I should allow my hijab to get into the way of me participating.”
Aden’s message is especially meaningful in the wake of a divisive election—one that drove Muslim women to social media to express their fear of wearing their hijabs in public. The teenager remained fully-covered for the entire competition.
“I just want to go on as myself,” Aden told the Star-Tribune. “When you have a lot of women in our state [who] do wear the hijab, we should be able to see that everywhere.”
Aden is a freshman at St. Cloud State University. She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, where she lived until she was seven years old. Her mother, Rukia, moved their family to Minnesota.
Though she didn’t win, “what I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective,” Aden told the radio station. “We just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people’s eyes.”
Meredith Gould, a 22-year-old from Minneapolis, won the 2017 Miss Minnesota USA. She will compete at the forthcoming televised Miss USA pageant.
Where does that leave Aden? With a message for the rest of us. As she told a local TV station, “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. Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”
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