Chances are you’ve never heard of Halima Aden but just yesterday the 19-year-old Somali-American model made world history.
How did she do it? She wore a hijab and a burkini as she stormed down the catwalk of the Miss Minnesota USA semifinal, reports Mashable.
And you know what the best part about the whole thing was, Halima was graced with nothing but intense applause as she strutted across the stage during the swimsuit segment of the pageant.
Halima Aden starts off Miss Minnesota USA's swimsuit segment to big cheers from the crowd. Announcer: "She's making history tonight." pic.twitter.com/OUvbHv6xct
— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 27, 2016
In case you didn’t know – a burkini is essentially a wetsuit which covers the entire body in accordance with Islamic beliefs intended to give some Muslim women the freedom to enjoy a trip to the beach without going against their faith.
As I’m sure you are all aware, the burkini was a major and controversial topic of debate over summer after the garment was ‘banned’ in six towns on the French Mediterranean coast.
Halima was born in a refugee camp just to the west of Somalia in Kenya and later moved to Minnesota when she was still a young child.
Speaking to Minnesota Public Radio before the semifinal, Halima said:
This pageant is so much more than just beauty. 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.
This is a great platform to show the world who I am. Just because I’ve never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to be the first.
Thank God the world continues to move forward.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.