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The Somali-American model, Halima Aden, has decided to retire from the runway after claiming the industry pressured her into compromising her use of the hijab.

Aden made her modelling debut at New York Fashion week in 2017, at the age of 19, and was hailed as a trailblazer for being the world’s first Muslim hijab-wearing supermodel. Since then she has fronted campaigns for major fashion labels including Kanye West’s Yeezy, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and more. She has been featured on the covers of British Vogue, Vogue Arabia and Allure.

However, despite her success as a visibly Muslim women in the modeling world, Aden said the high fashion industry had made her lose sense of “the real Halima” and made her re-evaluate her modeling career.

The 23-year-old posted a series of images on social media that illustrated the times she had lost touch with who she is, from missing prayer times to being draped with pairs of jeans or t-shirts over her head, and posing for shoots where men fix her hijab or apply make-up.



“I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake,” she wrote on her Instagram stories.



The model shared a post of herself in a campaign for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and wrote: “(Rihanna) let me wear the hijab I brought to set. This is the girl I’m returning to, the real Halima.”




She describes “sobbing” after taking part in one such shoot, where she knew she felt she had conceded her beliefs.
Posting a cover shoot of a photo she was ashamed of, she said: “This wasn’t ‘representation’, this was mockery. I was too young and naive to see it back then.”




In another post, Aden spoke about the feeling that comes from being “a minority within a minority”, adding: “What I do blame the industry for is the lack of Muslim women stylists.” She said this had led to very little understanding of the hijab within the fashion industry.

Aden also wrote about feeling the weight of being the most high-profile modest fashion model.

“Fellow Muslim sisters would send me DMs and even publicly tag me at the start of my career to say ‘stop dressing like an old woman’… which made me feel like I was doing something wrong… I remember wanting to be the ‘hot hijabi’ as if that didn’t just defeat the whole purpose,” she wrote. “A hot mess is what it was truthfully.”


Gigi Hadid has supported Aden and said she is ‘proud’ of her friend for speaking out on her regrets in order to ‘get back on track with what feels genuine’. She wrote on her Instagram stories: “Everyone should go check out Halima’s story right now. It is so important, as a hijabi or not, to self reflect and get back on track with what feels genuine to us – It’s the only way to feel truly fulfilled.”

Aden has expressed that she would keep modeling, but only if her hijab is “visible” in a way that is deemed appropriate to her.

“If my hijab can’t be this visible – I’m not showing up period. This is the standard moving forward if you want to work with me. Come correct or don’t come at all,” she said.