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Halima Aden: “I Never Thought I’d Be a Model”

From the moment Halima Aden set foot on the runway at Fall 2017 New York fashion week, it was clear that the world had been waiting for a model that could break the glass ceiling on diversity. A model that has the power to represent inclusivity, understated elegance, and natural beauty in one turn on the catwalk. For Vogue Arabia’s second issue, the first hijab-wearing model seen on the international runway shares stories of her childhood in a refugee camp and muses on her meteoric rise to fame.

Halima Aden for the April ‘Power’ issue of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Carter Smith and styled by Paul Cavaco

Halima Aden for the April ‘Power’ issue of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Carter Smith and styled by Paul Cavaco

“I never thought I’d be a model,” the Somali- American says. “I didn’t even think that door would open for me, to be honest. at’s why this has been a dream come true.” She speaks in dulcet tones, laced with a Midwestern American accent. “I think it has a lot to do with not seeing Muslim girls wearing the hijab and putting themselves out there.”

Halima Aden for the April ‘Power’ issue of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Carter Smith and styled by Paul Cavaco

Halima Aden for the April ‘Power’ issue of Vogue Arabia. Photographed by Carter Smith and styled by Paul Cavaco

“I wear my hijab as my crown,” Aden tells Vogue Arabia. “It takes time to grow into that. When I was younger, I was almost ashamed. People would bully me for not having hair; for looking like an alien. Having that taunting associated with wearing my hijab made me nearly want to pull away from it, but it’s my spiritual identity.” The 19-year-old’s openness is one of her differentiating strengths. “When I’m walking the runway I want people to see that yes, I’m wearing a hijab – but I’m also a million other things. I want us to get to a place where we just see women.”

Vogue Arabia’s July/August issue is available now across the region and the globe. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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