'For me, this is quite personal': Halima Aden returns to ‘Sports Illustrated’ in stylish burkinis

The modest fashion model wants women around the world to know that there is no need to conform, and that everyone is accepted

Halima Aden, the 22-year-old modest fashion model, is featuring on Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue yet again. Instagram
Powered by automated translation

Somali-American model Halima Aden is no stranger to setting new benchmarks. And proving that there's little she can't do, she's gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue once again.

The 22-year-old is seen posing in a number of different conservative beach looks for the magazine’s latest swimsuit issue. The different looks included a stylish pink Tommy Hilfiger catsuit, a Nike burkini and a Fendi logo-printed design.

"So proud to be back for my second year," Aden said in a post on Instagram, giving her followers a behind-the-scenes look at the shoot.

Sports Illustrated has also shared some quotes from the model. "For me, this is quite personal. Wearing a burkini in my state's Miss USA pageant launched my career at the end of 2016, so to be able to wear a burkini again on the iconic pages of Sports Illustrated Swim has been a full circle moment,"

“It means that I can wear a fully covered modest swimsuit, next to a woman wearing a two piece bikini and we can both be celebrated and show young girls and women around the world that you can just be you and that’s good enough. There is no need to conform; everyone is accepted. So let’s all remember, ‘Don’t change yourself, change the game!’”

"Don't change yourself, change the game" were the exact words she used when she appeared in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue in 2019 -  making history when she became the first woman to appear in the magazine's swimsuit issue in a hijab and burkini.

Aden wants women everywhere to know that they are represented and encourages them to take some risks.

“I am motivated by the messages I get from people around the world who connect with some part of my story,” she said. “That can be a young girl from small-town Wisconsin who looks nothing like me, but sees that small-town girls can go on and do big things."

"Or a Christian mum who thanks me for making modest wear look cool, or a woman with skin cancer who thanks me for making her aware that a swimsuit exists that can fully protect her on the beach, or young Muslim and hijab-wearing girls who have never before seen someone who looks like them represented in the entertainment space, I have to push and keep going because I don’t want to let these people down.

“I want to show them that if you are willing to put yourself out there and take risks the benefits always outweigh any negatives.”

Aden shot to fame in 2016 when she competed in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant, becoming the first contestant to compete in a hijab. She was a semi-finalist and chose to wear a burkini for the swimwear sequence. She has since signed with modelling agency IMG and made her foray into the fashion world in 2017.