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US Muslim model Halima Aden quits the runway


US Muslim fashion model Halima Aden has quit the runway ‘because she was forced to compromise her religion’ – three years after she was dubbed the world’s first hijab-wearing supermodel. 

Aden, 23, who fronted campaigns for Rihanna and Kanye West‘s clothing labels, shot to worldwide fame at the age of 19 when she was hailed the first supermodel to don a hijab.

The supermodel posted a number of stories to her followers on Twitter, detailing specific occasions she had struggled balancing being a Muslim woman and working in the high fashion industry. 

She said that during her work she was forced into situations where she had to compromise her religious beliefs.  

Halima Aden at the Lincoln Centre in New York, 2019

Aden walks the runway during New York Fashion week in 2019

Aden, 23, dubbed the first hijab-wearing supermodel, said she has quit the fashion industry after being forced to compromise her religion 

Aden said that while working on a shoot for jeans from American Eagle Outfitters, she had agreed to wear a pair of jeans over her head instead of a headscarf. 

She said that she sobbed in her hotel room after the shoot, and that the incident lead to her feeling as though she had lost a part of herself.   

‘But… this isn’t even my style?? Never was. Why did I allow them to put jeans on my head when at the time I had only ever worn skirts and long dresses?,’ she wrote.

‘I went back to my hotel room & just sobbed after this shoot because deep down I knew this wasn’t it. But was too scared to speak up.

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‘The truth is I was very UNCOMFORTABLE. This just ain’t me.’

The 23-year-old said that the pandemic had given her the opportunity to spend time with her family and to reflect on her career. 

Aden, who has appeared on the front covers of of British Vogue, Vogue Arabia and Allure, said the pandemic gave her time to stay at home with her family and reflect on her career

Aden, who has appeared on the front covers of of British Vogue, Vogue Arabia and Allure, said the pandemic gave her time to stay at home with her family and reflect on her career 

The time at home lead her to the conclusion that she needs to leave the industry in order to continue her life as a Muslim woman. 

‘I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake,’ she wrote. 

Aden said that she was a ‘minority within a minority’ in the modelling world and that there is a lack of Muslim female stylists in the industry.  

She did, however, praise some people she came into contact during her career, including Rihanna who she said allowed her to wear a hijab she brought on to a set herself. 

‘I had to make those mistakes to be the role model you can trust,’ Aden wrote.

Supportive: Gigi Hadid has thrown her support behind Somali model Halima Aden after she spoke out about her regrets of not wearing a modest, black hijab in fashion shoots.

Supportive: Gigi Hadid has thrown her support behind Somali model Halima Aden after she spoke out about her regrets of not wearing a modest, black hijab in fashion shoots.

‘Remember, I had no one before me paving the way so mistakes are part of the learning experience. I did good, but that isn’t enough. We gotta have these conversations in order to change the system truly.’  

Aden, who was born to Somali parents in a refugee camp in Kenya, was initially energised to represent Muslim women in the high fashion industry after her big break.   

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Since then, the 23-year-old has been featured on the covers of British Vogue, Vogue Arabia and Allure.  

Fellow model Gigi Hadid said she is ‘proud’ of Aden for speaking out on her regrets in order to ‘get back on track with what feels genuine.’ 

Both Gigi and Bella Hadid urged their followers to look at Aden’s Instagram posts in order to educate themselves.          

On Instagram, 25-year-old Gigi wrote: ‘Everyone should go check out @Halima’s story right now.

‘It is so important, as a hijabi or not, to self reflect and get back on track with what feels genuine to us – It’s the only way to feel truly fulfilled. 

‘I learnt through therapy once that if we are assertive with our boundaries, it does not mean that we are ungrateful for opportunity, and it will lead to an end result that does not feel hollow, one where we do not feel take advantaged of.

‘Learning that helped me so much. My sis Halima, you have inspired me since the day I met you and you continue to make me proud.

‘Keep shining, big love. (sic)’ 



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