Sports Illustrated Features First Model in Hijab & Burkini

Claudine Varela
May 07, 2019
06:50 A.M.

Somalian model Halima Aden stuns in a groundbreaking Sports Illustrated photo shoot as she channels a "burkini babe." "Ladies, anything is possible," she proudly says.


The first time is often the sweetest but for model Halima Aden, her first time to appear in Sports Illustrated is not only a dream come true but a historic moment.



In most issues of the famous publication, fans are treated to eye-popping bikini-clad models flaunting their bodies on the beach. But Halima’s premiere venture in the pages of the decades-long magazine is totally unexpected. Instead of a bikini, the Somali-American model dons a hijab and a burkini as a nod to her Muslim roots.


“Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies, anything is possible,” Halima wrote on her Instagram as she proudly revealed a couple of images from her Sports Illustrated shoot. In one she wears a colorful burkini, a full-body swimsuit that only bares her hands and feet. Her head is covered with an equally colorful hijab in shades of green, blue, and yellow matching the colors of her Muslim swimwear.

“I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hjab."


In the second, a short clip, she fashions a black burkini with a flowy hijab. It’s the same one she wore in a video the magazine shared as a promo for the issue which will be out on newsstands on May 8.

Halima is proud of what she’s accomplished for Muslim women.

“I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hjab,” she recalls in the promo clip.

“Don’t be afraid to be the first."



Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, Halima and her family moved to the US when she was seven and made St. Cloud, Minnesota her home. She initially gained attention after donning a burkini and hijab during the swimsuit competition of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. It was the first time she gave meaning to her mantra, “Don’t be afraid to be the first," the message she likewise imparts in her Sports Illustrated interview.

In March, she donned a hijab for the cover of Vogue, along with British model Ikram Abdi Omar and Amina Adan.


Today, Halima chalked another historic first impressing with her bold and revolutionary appearance in Sports Illustrated. She returned to Kenya for the swimsuit shoot and proudly referred to herself as a “burkini babe.” Cheers to Halima for changing the game.


Through the years, Sports Illustrated managed to break barriers with its evolving covers and first-time feats.

In 2015, Serena Williams became the first African American woman to be featured by her lonesome on the magazine's cover as Sportsman of the Year. She was made to sit on a golden throne wearing a sexy bodysuit and stilettos.


Serena's cover succeeded sports teams who were featured on the cover of the publication like the US Women's National Soccer team in 1999 which earned the title of first women's team to be hailed Sportswomen of the Year by the magazine.

Apart from athletes, for the first time in 1998, Sports Illustrated featured woman basketball coach Pat Summitt on its cover after leading her Tennessee team to 8 NCAA championship titles.

The tides continue to change where Sports Illustrated is concerned and it's great to see that as the magazine evolves, more and more kinds of women are celebrated.

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