Beauty is everywhere and in everything.”
SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – On Nov. 26, 2016 Halima Aden competed in the Miss MN USA pageant. While she didn’t win the competition, Halima’s messages goes beyond the stage.
Halima started the competition with the idea that everyone should be themselves, no matter their background.
“I just wanted to show people that it’s okay to wear the hijab, and it’s okay to stand confident,” she said.
Halima was the first woman to wear a burqini – a cross between a bikini and a burqa – in the MN pageant, and throughout the process of the competition she received mixed messages from people she didn’t even know.
The pageant contestant said she would get emails from parents thanking her for wearing a conservative outfit, as it gave their daughters the idea that you don’t have to dress half-naked to be considered beautiful.
On the other side of the spectrum, Halima also received emails from people claiming that she was cheating for wearing a concealing bathing suit, and that it wasn’t fair for the other contestants. Some even went as far as accusing her of pushing an “Islamic agenda”.
“You just can’t let people bully you, and you can’t let them win,” she said.
Despite the negative backlash, Halima keeps her spirits up by looking towards the future. She’s currently going to school at SCSU and is planning on majoring in Political Science. Her dream is to eventually be a human rights lawyer and work with the United Nations. Halima says the pageant is what pushed her towards a career in human rights.
Her new message to people is to look beyond the norms for beauty. She hopes that young women will look up to her and see that it doesn’t matter what you wear, everyone is beautiful.
“Beauty is everywhere and in everything, and we need to focus on that,” she said.