Pretty in Pink: Halima Aden Is Essence’s First Cover Star to Wear Hijab

Screenshot: JD Barnes (Essence Communications)

She’s Muslim, an icon of modest fashion, and one of the models of the moment. Now, Halima Aden is also the first model to wear hijab on the cover of Essence, giving us all-pink-everything glamour for the magazine’s January/February 2020 issue, the first in celebration of its 50th(!) year.

As the issue illustrates, Aden is no stranger to being first: in addition to being the first woman to wear hijab as a contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, she was also the first to rock one in the pages of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue (where she modeled several full-coverage burkinis). Essence additionally notes that Aden “was the first Muslim homecoming queen at her high school; the first Somali student senator at her college; and the first hijab-wearing woman to be the face of numerous fashion magazine covers, including Allure and British Vogue.”

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“It’s important for me to be visible and to do whatever I can to let girls know that they don’t have to change who they are,” the Somali-American model, activist and burgeoning film producer tells writer Jeannine Amber. “I want them to know the world will meet them exactly where they stand.”

The decade may be ending, but Essence’s next 50 years of celebrating black womanhood is just beginning. The January/February 2020 issue will be on newsstands early next month.

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Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.