19-year-old Halima Aden made history this weekend while participating in the Miss Minnesota USA contest. Aden decided to wear a hijab during all rounds of the competition, breaking down stereotypes and bringing diversity and representation to the pageant universe, "I feel like I'm here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women," she said.
Pageant officials supported Aden's participation in her hijab and burkini because they wanted to encourage women to be confident in their beauty. However, her mother did not approve of her participating in the competition, nor did some members of her community. But Aden stood confidently in her decision and shone brightly throughout the pageant, inspiring many.
Aden was born in a Kenyan refugee camp, but her family left for Minnesota when she was just 7. Despite this, her childhood made her a stronger person. That strength is what she brought to the stage when she decided to wear her hijab and burkini. It's not easy being the first to do something or serving as a role model, but Aden was able to do both. She also told ABC7: "A lot of girls were very supportive of what I'm doing, and that just makes it all worth it and my advice to them is just be confident in your own skin, know that an extra layer of clothing does not define your beauty, because beauty is within."
Now that the pageant is over, Aden will go back to being a normal college freshmen. One day she hopes to become a U.N. ambassador.
Take a look at tweets from Star Tribune reporter Liz Sawyer who was there to witness it all.
Halima Aden starts off Miss Minnesota USA's swimsuit segment to big cheers from the crowd. Announcer: "She's making history tonight." pic.twitter.com/OUvbHv6xct— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 27, 2016
Another round of big cheers for Halima Aden during the evening gown portion of Miss Minnesota USA. pic.twitter.com/0vZJ4EoqwI— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 27, 2016
Halima Aden, who made semifinals tonight, does post-pageant interviews while in her evening gown. pic.twitter.com/cuNHvjxVQa— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 28, 2016