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Halima Aden Opens Up About the Pressure of Being a Steoreotype-Shattering Hijabi Model with Manuel Arnaut
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After starring on two of Vogue Arabia’s groundbreaking covers, Somali-American model Halima Aden reconnected with the magazine and its Editor-in-Chief for the latest episode of ‘Manuel Arnaut In Conversation With…’

Halima Aden

Halima Aden for the June issue of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Greg Kadel and styled by Paul Cavaco

Taking place live on Zoom, and viewed by fans of the model and Vogue Arabia readers from around the world, the conversation saw the hijabi trailblazer open up about her impressive series of firsts with Arnaut. First hijab-wearing model to star on a Vogue cover, first one to walk for New York Fashion Week, first contestant at Miss Minnesota USA to wear a hijab and burkini — the list goes on and it comes with its fair share of expectations and pressure. The 22-year-old model shared that it took her a very long time to grasp the situation and realize that her career as a hijabi model was sustainable and one she could pursue for a long time. “At the time there were zero hijab-wearing models, there wasn’t any representation when it comes to hijab-wearing women in fashion or mainstream media,” said Aden. “So as you can imagine, it was very hard for me to imagine myself in a career and that is why even seven months into my modeling career I stayed home, I was still taking my classes, and I still had my housekeeping job at St. Cloud Hospital.”

Having walked the runways for some of the most renowned fashion houses while standing by her faith has undoubtedly led Aden to be seen as an inspirational figure by many. Giving her advice to one such aspiring model, Aden said: “Don’t be afraid to take risks and put yourself out there. You have to be an active participant in your life, and you have to go out there to make sure you are finding those opportunities and open doors. They don’t just come to you.” On navigating the world of fashion which may be an unconventional career path for a Muslim girl, the model said, “It’s definitely not the most comfortable conversation to have [with your family], but it needs to happen.” Adding: “I do believe that if you don’t have your family’s blessing, your mom and dad especially, it’s not going to be a fruitful career.”

Watch the full conversation above and make sure to check back to find out who will be the next guest in our weekly series “Manuel Arnaut In Conversation With…”

Read Next: Zuhair Murad on Covid-19’s Impact on His Designs, His Tips for Aspiring Designers and More with Manuel Arnaut

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