Halima Aden Makes Sports Illustrated Swimsuit History

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Apr 30, 2019

Somali-American model Halima Aden will become the first model to wear a burkini and hijab in the upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the publication announced yesterday (April 29). On sale May 8, the issue will feature Aden wearing a vibrant blue one-piece suit, topped with a green headwrap and overlay.

On her Instagram @halima, Aden noted her excitement, posting: “Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!! Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. 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.”



Born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, where she lived until age seven when her family moved to the United States, Aden is used to making waves. In a 2016 profile piece on the model, the StarTribune highlighted her layers of fierceness—including being the first Muslim homecoming queen at St. Cloud’s Apollo High School in Minnesota, the first Somali-American in her college to participate in student government and, at 19, the first contestant to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

This past April, the 21-year-old joined two other hijab-wearing models on the cover of Vogue Arabia, marking another milestone as it was the “first ever group hijabi cover for Vogue,” according to the magazine.

For her SI introduction, Aden returned to her home country to shoot on Watamu Beach. “I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Halima told the magazine. “So 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.”