As protests over the murder of George Floyd continue to escalate in the United States and the world over, Somali-American model Halima Aden has encountered her own personal share of bigotry over the weekend. Taking to Instagram to share her story, Aden posted a heartbreaking video, in which she is vilified and disparaged over her involvement with Sports Illustrated. The reason for the backlash? Her choice to be modest.
In the video shared with her one million followers, a man who self-identifies only as Republican, can be seen berating Aden firstly for being a Muslim woman and then for wearing a hijab. Mocking her use of modest swimwear, he makes comments such as “she should be locked up,” and “towels are to be used outside the water.”
Responding in what is her quintessentially respectful, yet empowered style, the model captioned the video with words of love for her herself and her hijabi sisters, instead of hatred for her critic — even though the latter of the two would have been an understandable choice on her part.
“Getting called ‘towel head’ when you’re a kid is one thing but imagine growing up, finding success, and still putting up with this [redacted].” Halima begins. “I apologize if this video is triggering but this is my experience being a Black, Muslim woman in this country. No matter how educated, successful, or unproblematic I am .. there will always be someone ready to tear me down.”
Going on to address her choice to dress modestly, she says “all this hate because I simply wanted to wear a modest swimsuit… well guess what? My body is NOT for your consumption.”
The post ends with a special message to her “little sisters,” who Aden knows all too well will no doubt encounter their own share of bigotry too. She writes, “don’t let it numb your heart or make you feel less than. You have every right to pursue your passions and lead a happy, healthy life. The hate they give will never diminish your light. When you need a reminder, save this and read it again. YOU are worthy! Your hijab is your crown. Your existence matters just like anyone else’s. You are a queen & you got this!”
Aden, who was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya moved to the city of Minnesota in the United States at age six. The daughter of Muslim, Somali parents, she has gone on to create a unique and novel identity out of effortlessly — not to mention stylishly, bridging the gap between Western fashion and modern modesty. Currently signed to IMG models, Halima has appeared on the cover of multiple magazines, while also walking catwalks at fashion week and being a spokesperson for young, Muslim girls growing up in the United States.