Halima Aden (the first hijabi-wearing model to feature on the cover of Vogue magazine) quit modelling last year November due to it compromising her Muslim faith.
In a recent interview with BBC, Halima Aden explained her decision further.
The 23 year old explained how in the beginning of her career she made sure to carry her own hijabs and clothing to every shoot, even getting her modelling agency IMG to sign and agree that they would never make her remove her hijab. However as time went by, she felt herself compromising.
She said, “I eventually drifted away and got into the confusing grey area of letting the team on-set style my hijab.” She explained how the hijabs got smaller, making her neck and chest accentuated at times. She also discussed how sometimes instead of the hijab, she would wear jeans, or other clothes and fabrics, around her head.
Due to Halima getting a private dressing area to be part of her contract, she was sad to see that other hijab – wearing models were not getting the same respect.
“That rubbed me the wrong way and I was like, ‘OMG, these girls are following in my footsteps, and I have opened the door to the lion’s mouth.’ A lot of them are so young, it can be a creepy industry. Even the parties that we attended, I would always find myself in big sister mode having to grab one of the hijab-wearing models because she’d be surrounded by a group of men following and flocking [round] her. I was like, ‘This doesn’t look right, she’s a child.’ I would pull her out and ask her who she was with.”
Halima was also mortified when a photo of a nude man was in the same magazine that she was on the cover of. Not only did she not understand why the magazine would allow that, but she also felt the makeup and styling was too much.
“In the first year of my career I was able to make it home for Eid and Ramadan but in the last three years, I was travelling. I was sometimes on six to seven flights a week. It just didn’t pause.
“My career was seemingly on top, but I was mentally not happy.”
“I was having anxiety thinking of 2021 because I loved staying at home with my family and seeing friends again.
“I’m grateful for this new chance that Covid gave me. We’re all reflecting about our career paths and asking, ‘Does it bring me genuine happiness, does it bring me joy?'”
Halima was born in Kakuma – a refugee camp in Kenya.
“I don’t think the world needs me as a model or celebrity, it needs me as Halima from Kakuma – somebody who understands the true value of a penny and the true value of community.
“You know, I’ve never been on a proper vacation. I’m putting my mental health and my family at the top. I’m thriving, not even just surviving. I’m getting my mental health checked, I’m getting therapy time.”
Halima’s story is very eye-opening. More needs to be done to protect Muslims in the fashion/modelling industry. There are many Muslims who aspire to be models and deserve a space there; the industry must adapt to be able to accommodate and be inclusive.