Muslim Refugee-Turned-Model Covers Teen Vogue And Is Living Her Best Life
Plus how keeping her clothes on has seen her career take off.
Halima Aden isn't your typical cover girl. She's a 20-year-old Kenyan refugee, a practicing Muslim -- she wears a hijab -- and when she first fled the Somali Civil War for America at the age of seven she couldn't speak a word of English.
Now, almost 14 years after she, her mother and younger brother rebuilt their lives in Minnesota, the statuesque yet modest beauty is living her dream as an international fashion model and a pretty darn successful one at that.
Aden's gorgeous features have lit up the covers of fashion tomes like Vogue Arabia, Allure, Glamour and most recently, Teen Vogue, something which she's rather excited about.
Not only is Aden, a former homecoming queen -- yeah, girl! -- taking the sartorial world by storm but she's doing it on her terms, which is very, very cool.
In accordance with her religion and culture, Aden doesn't drink alcohol, stays covered up on and off the catwalk, and never travels without a female chaperone -- as a young, unmarried Muslim woman she cannot be alone with men who aren't friends or family.
Far from hindering her career as some might think, Aden's beliefs have seen her flourish. Her's is a life full of firsts. She was the first hijab-wearing model to sign with IMG, a top modeling agency, to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant -- she wore a burkini for the swimsuit portion -- and to walk the runways in New York and Milan.
It is because of -- not in spite of -- her beliefs that Aden has become a boundary-destroying role model for young Muslim women, refugees -- heck pretty much everyone.
This little lady ain't done yet. She's now buddies with celebs and fashion's elite including French style royalty Carine Roitfeld after she cast Aden as the cover star of her very own magazine, CR Fashion Book.
Aden told Teen Vogue of the pure joy she felt when she heard why Roitfeld had chosen her, “She said she picked me because she thought I was beautiful and nothing more. Forget the hijab, she just thought I was beautiful. That makes me feel like I can be myself and that’s enough.”
Aden's Teen Vogue appearance dovetailed with another huge achievement, in fact she was on the cover shoot in Kenya -- her first visit since fleeing her homeland in 2004 -- when she got news that she's been chosen as an official UNICEF ambassador.
It seems life has come full circle for Aden, who relied heavily on the support of the charity as a refugee. Now she gets to help others who are struggling just as she did, and we couldn't think of anyone more perfect for the job.
Feature image: Getty.