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8 Questions for Halima Aden


Halima Aden is the world’s first hijab-wearing international runway model. She spoke with TFK Kid Reporter Maria Suarez about being a fashion model, a role model, and an ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

1. Your story spread quickly when you wore a hijab in the 2016 Miss Minnesota U.S.A. pageant. What is a hijab?

In Arabic, the word hijab means “covering.” It can look different for each individual. It’s my scarf, but I also wear a turban. Sometimes, I wear hats to cover my head. I like to have fun with it.

2. You’re often described as a “hijabi model.” Is that how you describe yourself?

I definitely describe myself as a hijab-wearing model. But I’m not just a label. I’m a friend. I’m a daughter. There are many characteristics I use to define myself. It’s nice to own your identity. But I’m more than just a girl who wears a hijab.

3. In 2016, you were a pageant contestant. Now you’re a famous model. What changes have you seen in the modeling industry in that time?

I was the first model to wear a hijab, but there are now eight or more other hijab-wearing models. It shows that everybody’s ready for change.

4. Why do we need to see models who look like us?

When I was young, girls who wore the hijab didn’t see someone who looked like them in magazines. Everyone deserves to see someone they can relate to. It’s motivating. You see a bit of yourself in them.

5. You recently visited the refugee camp in Kenya where you were born. What was that like?

It was extremely emotional. On one hand, I got to go back to the camp I was born in. That came with a whole whirlwind of emotions. But I also gave the first-ever TEDx Talk in a refugee camp refugee camp JEFF ROTMAN/GETTY IMAGES a place where refugees, or people who have been forced to flee their home country, live (noun) After leaving their home country, the family lived in a refugee camp. . That was very exciting. I felt grateful.

GOING BACK Somali-American model Halima Aden was born in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya. She visited students there in 2018.


6. What do you do as an ambassador for UNICEF?

My goal is to spread the word by sharing my relationship with UNICEF. I was a child like the ones they are trying to help.

7. How do you balance your career as a fashion model with your work as a UNICEF ambassador?

UNICEF is so personal to me. Even if I didn’t get into modeling, whatever else I did would have included that. Fashion is amazing. But UNICEF’s work is a social responsibility I can’t ignore.

8. What does the future hold for you?

To write a book, and to continue working with UNICEF. For sure, I will go back to the camp.