Halima Aden just made history.
On Monday, the 21-year-old Muslim woman became the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 2019 edition. The model joined this year’s rookie class.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden 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.”
Aden also posted a message to her followers on Instagram, following the news of making history.
“Don’t change yourself… Change the game,” she wrote on the social media site.
“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.”
According to SI, the Somali-American model made headlines when she became the first woman to wear a hijab at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant in 2016. Aden reached the semifinal swimsuit portion of the night.
“I just wanted to go on as myself,” Aden told the Star Tribune that year. “When you have a lot of women in our state that do wear the hijab, we should be able to see that everywhere.”
Social media reacts
On social media, many fans were supportive of SI’s decision.
“I’m so proud of you and to every Muslim girl out there that never felt represented you can do it,” one social media user wrote.
“For all the girls and women around the world who are considered different or strange and ostracized for how they dress whether it is for religious and/or cultural values or just old fashion ‘modest,’ [or] ‘ladylike’ values this one is for you,” another user added.
Others, however, posted anti-Muslim comments regarding the magazine’s decision, but fans quickly jumped in to help shut the haters down.
“Muslim women can go in water [and] last time I checked it said, ‘swimsuit edition’… so, a suit you can swim in, which is what she has on. Swimsuit is not synonymous with bikini. Hateful people will find anything to hate on. Keep going girl,” one user wrote.
“We believe beauty knows no boundaries,” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day told NBC.
“I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for.”