A Somali-American teenager became the first contestant to wear a hijab and burkini during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant over the weekend.
Halima Aden, 19, competed against 45 women for the Miss Minnesota USA, KARE-11 reports. Aden, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to St. Cloud as a child, wore her hijab throughout the pageant, as well as a burkini during the swimwear competition of the event. The St. Cloud State University student placed in the top 15 of the pageant but unfortunately didn’t make it into the top 5, according to ABC-7.
However, winning was never Aden’s No. 1 priority. Instead, she was more concerned with “busting” stereotypes and misconceptions of Muslim women, and inspiring other women to embrace themselves and their differences. “A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it, so growing up I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” Aden told KARE-11.
Pageant officials were reportedly supportive of Aden’s choice to compete fully covered. Denise Wallace, the director of Miss Minnesota USA and Miss Minnesota Teen USA, told ABC-7, “The organization continues to evolve as women evolve. The Miss Universe organization is proud to be the forefront of the diversity of beauty.”