Halima Aden Becomes First Burkini Model In Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue

Somali-American Halima Aden makes history as first model to wear a hijab and burkini in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

She's only 21, but Aden has already achieved a lot in the modelling world.

She was the first woman to wear a burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, the first hijab-wearing model to sign a contract with world-famous agency IMG, the first hijab model on a US fashion magazine cover, and now, the first model to appear in a burkini in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.

And she's -- understandably -- pretty stoked about it.

Image: Sports Illustrated/Yu Tsai

The model shared a shot from her photoshoot on her Instagram, writing an inspiring message in the caption: "Don't change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!!"

"Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me," she continued.

"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. Thank you so much @si_swimsuit & the entire team for giving me this incredible opportunity."

Sports Illustrated announced Aden as the newest member of its "Swimsuit family" on Monday. The iconic magazine chose Kenya for her shoot -- a place of significance for the model, who lived in a refugee camp there before going to the US at age seven.

Her photos were shot on Watamu Beach with snapper Yu Tsai.

Aden opened up about how much the inclusion meant to her in a statement.

“This feature is proving that a fully covered hijab wearing model can confidently stand alongside a beautiful woman in a revealing bikini and together they can celebrate one another, cheer each other on, and champion each other’s successes,” she said.

Image: Sports Illustrated/Yu Tsai

“Young Muslim women need to know that there is a modest swimsuit option available to them so they can join the swim team, participate in swim class at school, and go with their friends to the beach. Muslim girls should feel confident taking that step and doing so comfortably while wearing a burkini.”

“SI Swimsuit has been at the forefront of changing the narrative and conversation on social issues and preconceived notions. I’m hoping this specific feature will open doors up for my Somali community, Muslim community, refugee community, and any other community that can relate to being different,” Aden continued.

READ MORE: Muslim Refugee-Turned-Model Covers Teen Vogue And Is Living Her Best Life

READ MORE: Democrats Want To Change 181-Year-Old 'No Hat' Rule In Congress To Allow Hijabs

The model spoke to the magazine in detail about her refugee camp experiences in Kenya, as well as her move to Minnesota, where she was her town's homecoming queen. She went on to become her college's first Muslim-Somali student senator.

"After that, I remember thinking, 'What next?' And that's when I came across the Miss Minnesota USA pageant," she said.

Image: Allure
Image: Vogue

Aden was the first to wear a hijab in the pageant in 2016, and has now graced many  of fashion's prestigious magazine covers including Allure and British Vogue.

In her interview with SI, Aden said she was in disbelief that she got this opportunity.

"To grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya -- I don't think that's a story that anybody could make up," Aden said.

Her inclusion comes as other hijab-wearing models storm the fashion world -- as Feriel Moulaï and Ugbad Abdi both walked the runways during Paris Fashion Week.

Ugbad Abdi for Paris Fashion Week. Image: Getty

Feature image: Getty