“Don’t change yourself, change the game” — the slogan of international model and Unicef Ambassador Halima Aden and also her advice to young women aspiring to make it in the industry.
Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, Aden, who moved to the US at age six, made history as the first contestant in Miss Minnesota USA to don hijab and the first hijab-wearing model to be signed to a major modeling agency, walk international runways and be on the cover of British Vogue, Allure and Vogue Arabia — a game-changer in the modeling industry.
In an exclusive interview with The Peninsula, she expressed pride for being considered a trailblazer in the industry.
“I’m so proud because it’s not uncommon now to see hijab-wearing models. It’s not uncommon anymore for girls to aspire to be in the fashion industry, be a model, pursue editorials. I’m even more excited for other big firsts and I’m constantly challenging myself to do better every day,” she said.
The 22-year-old Somali-American model is not only excited of what the future holds for her but other young women in her community whom she has inspired.
“I’m also excited for the young women in my community to do great things and never be afraid to take risks and put themselves out there because if I didn’t compete for Miss Minnesota USA in 2016, I would have not have gone to modeling and I would have not become a Unicef ambassador if I didn’t have this platform,” she said.
“I just want to encourage all the girls in my community and all the girls that follow me to just don’t be afraid to be the first and dream big. There’s so much that we can still be doing so whatever I can do to inspire them I’m ready to do that,” she added.
On her message to young women who aspire to be in the industry, she said: “My slogan is ‘Don’t change yourself, change the game.’ I honestly think as long as you’re pursuing your passion and something that you’re doing for yourself, it’s never going to lead you astray so just go out, give it a try. Sometimes you fail, but even when you fail it’s not really failure because you learn so much more through that experience, so I would just say there’s no losing when it comes to trying something new, getting outside your comfort zone and putting yourself out there.”
Aden has visited Qatar for the first time to participate in the 16th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition as a special guest and share her journey to success and the rise of modest fashion in the international scene in ‘Celebrity Talk: Breaking boundaries, a history of firsts’ on Friday.
She stressed that she was excited to support the designers participating in Heya which she lauded for bringing together designers from all over the world.
“I think it gives people the opportunity to not just shop one collection but to have a taste of all these different countries because a lot of these designers incorporate their culture into the clothes so I just love the fact that there’s no other event like Heya and that it’s really nice that it’s in Qatar as well,” she said.
On how she sees the future of modest fashion, she said: “I want to see more of a bridge between modest fashion and high fashion or mainstream fashion because I think they are so similar but at the same time so different but events like Heya is creating that bridge.
“ Modest fashion has stood the test of time. It’s the oldest trend and it’s going to be around for another 100 years. I don’t think it’s exclusive to any one group whether you are a hijab-wearing person or you’re not Muslim and that’s what’s so beautiful about Heya, anybody can shop this collection and still look amazing, confident, and beautiful. That’s why I came here to support it.”
On her first impression of Qatar: “I think it’s beautiful with the tall buildings and really clean. It’s really stunning. I love the architecture.”
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