Born in 1997, Halima Aden was displaced by conflicts and famine in Somalia to neighboring Kenya where she spent her early childhood in a sprawling settlement, home to tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.
When she was seven, her family managed to get permission to immigrate to the United States.
As a high school student in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the Muslim girl was voted homecoming queen and became the first contestant to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
At 19, Halima Aden astonished the American fashion world by wearing a burkini in a Miss USA beauty pageant. From a refugee camp in Kenya to New York Fashion Week.Follow her story this week on Witness – Al Jazeera: aje.io/Halima
Posted by Al Jazeera English on Sunday, 4 November 2018
At 19, Halima became the first hijab-clad model to sign with top modeling agency IMG. She has appeared in the pages of top magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue and Glamour and walked the runways in New York and Milan.
“You don’t have to conform. You don’t have to take off your scarf. It always comes down to choice: Letting people live the kind of life they want to live,” Halima says.