Featured Optimist: Halima Aden Makes Waves of Change at Beauty Pageant

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.

Miss Minnesota USA pageant contestant Halima Aden in burkini (left) and evening gown (right).

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.

View this post on Instagram

Hello, I hope you guys read this! When was Halima Aden was born in a Kenyan refugee camp 19 years ago, no one thought she’d have a chance to be #MissMinnesotaUSA. But when she was six, her parents emigrated to the United States and found a new home in a Somali-American immigrant community in Minnesota. Now, Aden is proudly representing both sides of her heritage as the first Somali-American to ever compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Aden said. “Not seeing women that look like you in media, in general, and especially in beauty competitions, sends the message that you’re not beautiful or you have to change the way you look to be considered beautiful, and that’s not true.” ••• I am from South America (Brazil) and Beauty Pageants here is a sign of status and glamour. It's something huge! We're fanatics. We already have an "ideal" of what is beauty. Tall, thin and long hair. In 2015 I learned to see the contestants in a different way. I have seen that beauty is much more than the characteristics imposed in the place from where I came. ✨ I would love to see my friends with an "advanced" vision of what beauty is. "It is our mind that creates the definition of the beauty. Clear your mind. Clear your body. Reach for the strength within. We are all beautiful people" Have a great Friday! 💋

A post shared by Lucas Sigarini (@roadtomissusa) on



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