Day 6

Halima Aden made history by wearing a burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA competition

This week, Halima Aden competed in the Miss Minnesota USA contest, wearing a hijab and burkini. She did this while attacks on visible minorities — in particular Muslims — are on the rise throughout the United States. Halima Aden shares her thoughts on being true to herself on such a public stage in such a charged political moment.
Halima Aden competed in a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant. (Future Productions, LLC)

Last weekend, 19-year-old Halima Aden made history as the first contestant to compete in a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant.

She did this at a time when attacks against Muslims have been on the rise in the United States — especially following the 2016 presidential election.

Originally from Somalia, Halima was born in Kenya and came to America when she was six years old.

Recent political and social tensions in the United States have left many young Muslim girls confused and discouraged about where they fit in in their communities, she says.

Halima Aden models a burkini in the bikini contest portion of Miss Minnesota USA. (Future Productions, LLC)

Far from being deterred, she felt inspired to embrace her culture on the world stage.

"If anything, it just made me want to push harder to represent Somali-Americans and Muslims in a positive light, so people have a different perspective," she told Day 6 host Brent Bambury.

Both fans and organizers threw their support behind Halima as she went through the pageant.

"We were honored to meet Halima and the other accomplished contestants who took part in a truly life changing event," Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, said in an email.

Halima did experience some pushback from people both within and outside of the Muslim community.

But for her, it was worth it.

"Growing up, I didn't have that many role models that looked like me or dressed like me," she said. "So it was important that I represent the community that I'm from."