Halima Aden was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to the United States when she was six years old.
As reported by Today.com, Halima told the news outlet, “Like so many little girls, I never had anyone like me to look up to.” As a practicing Muslim who wears a hijab, Halima “was determined to change that for other young girls.” The 19-year-old did just that when she competed in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, which took place on November 26, and wore her hijab throughout the competition.
While Halima did not win the pageant – Meridith Gould took the reign and will compete in the Miss USA pageant next year – in a post-pageant Instagram post, Halima celebrated with a statement of her own, which included her unwavering belief that, “Beauty isn’t a one size fits all.”
Another part of the competition is the well-known swimsuit competition. For that, Halima wore a burkini – a suit that covers the entire body except for the face, hands and feet, while still being light enough to swim in.
The Miss Universe Organization, which includes Miss USA under its umbrella, intends to empower women and in a statement on their website declares, “The Miss Universe Organization is a company run by women for women, built on a foundation of inclusion and continues to be a celebration of diversity. Annually, nearly ten thousand young women participate in Miss Universe pageant events. The contestants and titleholders that have gone through the Miss Universe system are able to cultivate their personal career goals, advocate for humanitarian issues and be a voice to affect positive change in the world. These women are forward thinking and motivated to not just talk about this change, but to initiate it.”
Halima spoke about her road to Miss USA, via the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and what her participation meant to her.