Sports Illustrated Features Model Wearing Hijab And Burkini For The First Time Ever

by : Lucy Connolly on :
Sports Illustrated model Hijab@halima/Instagram

A Somali-American woman has become the first to model a hijab and burkini in the swimwear edition of Sports Illustrated magazine.

Halima Aden, 21, will appear in the May 2019 issue of the magazine, with the publication saying they are ‘absolutely thrilled’ the model is now part of their family.


The 21-year-old, born into a Kenyan refugee camp, made history as the first model to pose for pictures in the modest Muslim swimwear; the photos were taken at Watamu Beach in her birth country.

Halima was born at the Kakuma Refugee Camp and lived there until the age of seven, before moving to the United States with her family, Sports Illustrated reports.

Photographed by Yu Tsai, the 21-year-old donned a colourful variety of hijabs and burkinis for the shoot which took place in the nation of her birth.


Halima said during her shoot:

I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp. So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for Sports Illustrated in the most beautiful parts of Kenya – I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.

This isn’t the first time the model has broken records, becoming the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant in 2016. A semi-finalist, Halima then went on to sign with IMG models.


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From there, the 21-year-old became a successful international model while also becoming a champion for the expansion of the traditional definition of beauty.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day said:

We believe beauty knows no boundaries. I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for and her work with UNICEF as an ambassador.

She is, in my opinion, one of the great beauties of our time, not only outside but inside. When we met, I was instantaneously taken by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity.

We bonded immediately over the idea of her participating in this year’s issue. We both believe the ideal of beauty is so vast and subjective.

We both know that women are so often perceived to be one way or one thing based on how they look or what they wear. Whether you feel your most beautiful and confident in a burkini or a bikini, you are worthy.


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A post shared by Halima (@halima) on


Wow. Congratulations to Halima for breaking through the glass ceiling and being such a massive inspiration to young women.

Halima’s photos will be available to view in full on May 8.


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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Fashion, Hijab, Kenya, Model, News, Race, US News


Sports Illustrated
  1. Sports Illustrated

    Halima Aden Makes History as the First Model to Wear a Hijab and Burkini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit