Halima Aden, the first Hijab-wearing supermodel has quit fashion shows as she claims they caused her to stray from her religious beliefs.
Now, 23 years old, Halima shot to fame in 2016, after participating in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant. She later signed a contract with IMG Models, a global modelling agency and appeared in New York Fashion Week the following February, walking for both Kanye West Yeezy and MaxMara.
The model took to Instagram in November and told her 1.2 million followers that she was quitting runway shows as she felt she had lost herself and the industry was making her out to be someone she was not.
Since breaking the news on her Instagram, Halima has deactivated and taken a break from all social media platforms.
She posted on her Instagram” “I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake.
“I blame myself for being naive and rebellious.
“What I do blame the industry for is the lack of female Muslim stylists.”
Halima was the first Hijabi to feature on Sports Illustrated Magazine wearing a Hijab and Burkini in an array of colours.
Since speaking up about the lack of diversity in the industry and the idea of needing to reclaim her image and Hijab, she has created a conversation amongst fellow scarf-wearing girls about the portrayal of Hijab in the media and the lack of representation of Muslim women in magazines.
Humaira Bhana, 23, a Chemical Engineering graduate, interested in fashion and the role Muslim women are playing in the fashion industry, said: “It takes a lot more effort on a Muslim Woman’s part to make it into the industry but once she’s in she paves the way for a lot of other people.
“Because it’s an unknown culture to Western society, it’s always going to be a select few who are going to make it in.”
As the fashion industry tries to become more inclusive and diverse, to strengthen relationships with their audience and to celebrate authenticity and individuality, readers and consumers feel that at times brands are using their ethnicity and culture to simply tick a box, rather than promote diversity within the roots of their business.
Humiaraa added, “Brands need to understand that one Muslim woman does not represent all Muslim women and we need more people with scarves from wider backgrounds to illustrate magazine covers and pages to highlight that we are a part of society.”
The Miss Minnesota winner highlighted that there was a lack of diversity in the industry from the top of the company such as CEO’s to the bottom, the makeup artists, stylists and photographers.
Halima said on her Instagram stories: “My Hijab was never the problem; the problem was I was trying to fit into a society that was not made for me.
“If it doesn’t feel right sis, walk away.”
The supermodel started a conversation about what representation should feel like as a Muslim woman and if it’s worth giving up your morals and beliefs to seek this representation.