The Middle-East doesn’t sound like the fashion capital of the world. However, with the help of models and industry leaders like Halima Aden, there’s rising interest.
The July issue of Allure Magazine was graced with this hijab-wearing knock-out, Halima Aden. She is the first and only model to walk a high fashion runway in a hijab. For a girl who is described as knocking down barriers and stereotypes, travelling the world and successfully taking out the modelling and fashion industry one runway at a time, she is awfully young. 19 to be exact – but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming one to watch.
The Somali-based model is signed with IMG Modelling Agency, who also manages modelling all-stars like Alessandra Ambrosio, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Candice Swanepoel, Hailey Baldwin, Taylor Hill and Miranda Kerr. She has become an inspiration to all young Muslim girls around the globe as she talks about how she went “from refugee camp to cover-girl”.
The fact that YOUNG BLACK HIJABIS can be represented and look up to you is soo beautiful pic.twitter.com/gTFCpHXFN0
— Khaled Shabaneh (@Abushabaneh) June 21, 2017
an inspiration for all Muslim girls I’m proud ❤️❤️❤️❤️
— E (@JustinBeberLuv) June 20, 2017
Halima was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and it wasn’t until her and her mother moved to the USA when she was seven and grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, that she was able to have a second chance at chasing those life goals. At eight years old, Halima chose to wear the hijab; a small step on her journey to becoming one of the MIddle-East’s biggest fashion icons.
When asked about her hijab, she politely reassures that she made a choice to wear it as a model and it is a decision that she sticks by.
“Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way,” she says. “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”
While Halima is admired globally for making her religion proud, it brings a larger discussion to the surface. Fashion is not something that people can associate with countries in the Middle East. Yet, as time persists, people, activists, models and fashion ambassadors are taking a stand and slowly letting people know that the Middle East has a fashion identity.
However, in attempting to bringing Arabic communities up out of the works and into the fashion industry, there was always going to be some backlash.
Halima is besties with Gigi Hadid, one of the most internationally recognised models of today. Having Gigi being half-Palestinian comes with its perks, for example, being the cover of Vogue’s very first Arabian issue back in March 2017. However, along with Gigi’s cover came the inevitable media controversy as many claimed that it was unfair to choose Gigi as the cover star because she does not represent that of a practising Arabic-Muslim.
— menna? (@blartrash) March 1, 2017
what about the Arab models who actually know what its like to be an Arab in todays day and age
— Raheema (@raaaaaaaaaayyy) March 2, 2017
Gigi Hadid is only Palestinian when it suits her but doesn’t bring light to the political problems facing her people?!?!?
— ????? (@mariamxooo) March 5, 2017
Please send her to A Muslim Country for a week to see if she agrees afterwards
— Stinger Splash (@StingerSplash88) March 6, 2017
This is one of many examples where the idea of Middle Eastern fashion is shut down by the public. Regardless of the fact that this issue was more so directed at Gigi being the cover, it still doesn’t excuse society’s ability to look upon fashion which is interpreted in a way that is subject to the Arabian culture and frown upon it. Internationally recognised models have graced the covers of Vogue all over the globe such as Vogue UK, Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris, Vogue Japan, Vogue Australia – some of which have had numerous international models feature on the cover regardless of what race, religion or nationality they are. Why does it stop there? Which is why it is such a big step for the industry to have Halima on the cover on the biggest fashion mags in the world.
All in all, Halima Aden’s July Allure Magazine cover as well as last month’s issue of Vogue Arabia has told a story of her journey. Not only did she get the ability to showcase what the Arabic fashion community has to offer, but got to showcase what she has to offer as her own individual.
To check out more of Halima Aden in an exclusive with Allure Magazine, click here.