When Halima Aden joined the SI Swimsuit Issue as a 2019 rookie in Kenya, she made history as the first hijab-wearing model to grace the pages of the annual magazine. She returned to the fold the following year, when she worked with photographer Kate Powers for a feature on the beaches of the Dominican Republic.
While there, we took the chance to catch up with Aden for the second year in a row, and gained a little bit more insight into the model’s background and motivations.
In terms of her incentive for her work as a model—and a trailblazing one at that—her answer was certain. “I am motivated by the messages I get from people around the world who connect with some part of my story,” she said. Such as “young Muslim and hijab-wearing girls who have never before seen someone who looks like them represented in the entertainment space, I have to push and keep going because I don’t want to let these people down. I want to show them that if you are willing to put yourself out there and take risks, the benefits always outweigh any negatives.”
We ended with a hard-hitting question: What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self? Adens answer, much like her, was thoughtful. “Plain and simple: be unapologetically yourself,” she answered.
Aden’s positive outlook and incredibly meaningful motivations more than shined through in both of her SI Swimsuit features. Today, we’re taking a look back at her photoshoot in the Dominican Republic. Here are some of the inspiring photos from the day.