Halima Aden, the Somali model who shot to fame last year as the first hijab-wearing international model of acclaim to walk on international runways – breaking yet another Western taboo about Islamic headwear – has been revealed as the cover star for the coveted bi-annual CR Fashion book Issue13.
The edition, titled “Compassion, Celebration, and Creativity,” which also features US Top Model Bella Hadid, is in aid of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), of which Halima is a global Ambassador.
“The dual Fall/Winter 2018 covers were lensed by contemporary art photographer Pieter Hugo, styled by [fashion editor] Carine Roitfeld, and were conceived to engage today’s generation of youth with the important story of the global refugee crisis,” the CR said on its website on which Halima also comments on her personal experience as a refugee:
“I was six and I can still remember that UNICEF sign and every single missionary who came to the [refugee] camp. I forget names, but can never forget how they made me feel.”
Halima was born in what was then, the world’s largest refugee camp – Kakuma, in Kenya, after her family had fled war in their native Somalia. After seven years in the camp, she was relocated to St. Louis in the US and immediately thrust into the unfamiliar world of schooling. She hardly spoke any English, but amazingly, she soon not only caught up but began to surpass her schoolmates.
Despite constant social pressure, she continued to wear her hijab as demanded by her Muslim faith. In 2016, she became the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini and hijab.
She was signed up by IMG Models and in February 2017, made her debut at the New York Fashion Week. She has modelled for such renowned designers and fashion labels as Max Mara, and Alberta Ferretti.
In 2017, she also became the first hijab-wearing cover star for VogueArabia and Allure magazines.
Now an ambassador for UNICEF, Aden has been vocal on the plight of refuges worldwide. In July this year she returned to Kakuma, the Kenyan refugee camp where she was born, for the first time.
A statement on by the world body s stated that as a UNICEF Ambassador, Halima uses her voice to engage young people across the U.S. to support UNICEF’s mission to put children first. She brings awareness to programs that save and protect children’s lives and use her platforms to advocate for children’s rights. As a refugee herself, she uniquely understands the needs, along with the hopes and dreams, of the 30 million children around the world who have been forcibly displaced by conflict.
“I’ve seen UNICEF’s incredible, impactful work for children first-hand. When I was young, UNICEF gave me an education, empowering myself, my family and our community in the process. It’s an honor to have this platform with UNICEF USA and I look forward to advocating for children around the world, just as others advocated for me,” Halima said on her appointment last July.
Her co-star, Bella, one of the biggest social media influencers and top model of her generation, is also a daughter of a refugee. “My dad was a Syrian refugee… He was born in Nazareth, Palestine, and the week that his family was kicked out of their home, they moved to Syria. I think he was also about one week old. It’s crazy to think about what our families did for us,” she tells the publications.
It both models’ second time to cover the sought-after fashion book.