‘You never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”
When was Halima Aden was born in a Kenyan refugee camp 19 years ago, no one thought she’d have a chance to be Miss Minnesota USA. But when she was six, her parents emigrated to the United States and found a new home in a Somali-American immigrant community in Minnesota. Now, Aden is proudly representing both sides of her heritage as the first Somali-American to ever compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Aden decided to compete in the pageant after realizing that her thriving Muslim community wasn’t being represented. “I could have sat there and I could have waited for a long time to see somebody who was dressed like me or looks like me, but I noticed that’s just not happening,” Aden said. “Not seeing women that look like you in media, in general, and especially in beauty competitions, sends the message that you’re not beautiful or you have to change the way you look to be considered beautiful,” Aden said. “And that’s not true.”
To Aden, competing in the pageant is all about expressing her authentic self which means staying true to her spiritual beliefs. That’s why she asked pageant organizers for permission to wear a burkini in the swimsuit competition and they obliged. Aden also sees the pageant as an opportunity to show a side to Muslim women that few Americans see.“ As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light,” she said. “But you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”