Fashion

Hijab-Wearing Model Halima Aden Opens Up About the Importance of Diversity in Fashion

The YEEZY Season 5 runway star continues to break stereotypes.

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Hijab-Wearing Model Halima Aden Opens Up About the Importance of Diversity in Fashion

The YEEZY Season 5 runway star continues to break stereotypes.

As a breakout star of the 2017 fall/winter season, Halima Aden made headlines last month when she became the first and only hijab-wearing model signed to IMG. In addition to gracing the cover of Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book, the 19-year-old also walked on the runway for Kanye West‘s YEEZY Season 5 as well as Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti. Originally born in Kenya and raised in Bancock, Aden has returned to her hometown post-fashion month, reuniting with her friends and resuming her housekeeping job at St. Cloud Hospital.

In a recent interview with Glamour, the budding model opens up about the importance of representation in fashion and discusses what it’s like to walk with her mentor and friend, Gigi Hadid. Read an excerpt of the conversation below, and view the full feature here.

You’re only 19. Do you feel pressure to represent a certain type of woman or set a certain standard for a younger generation?

It’s something I want to see be done. When I was younger I didn’t have that type of person that I could look up to and be like “okay this is someone who dresses like me and relate to.” Maybe they have a similar background or upbringing or culture. I didn’t have that growing up, so for more to give that opportunity to a younger generation of women — and not just Somali women but anyone who feels different. That means a lot to me.

When we saw you on the runway, we couldn’t help but wonder: why didn’t this happen sooner? Did you feel that way, too, at all?

I mean, there needs to be a change on both sides. We can’t put all the blame on the fashion industry because for a really long time, Muslim models have been hesitant to do it as well, you know. There weren’t that many girls who were willing to put themselves out there … What I have learned is that designers are willing to tell the world that they are here to empower women from all different backgrounds and different walks of life. It’s no different than being a woman of color or pale with lots of freckles; the hijab for me is just a piece of myself that I bring.

Do you think it’s going to be hard to go back to “real life” now?

I’ll be going back to my housekeeping job at St. Cloud Hospital. We call it environmental services, but it’s housekeeping. A lot of people don’t know that side of me. I think it’s cool to have these two different perspectives; like here I am traveling and doing my things, but I still have my friends and my job back home.

Who was your favorite fellow model at the shows?

Gigi [Hadid] — she came up to me in line and was like “girl, come here!” And I mean, she’s a supermodel in my eyes. So to have someone of that big name and with that influence still tell you to “come here”. It reminded me of being the new kid at school and having the nice people welcome you.

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