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muslim teen competes for miss minnesota in hijab and burkini

19-year-old Halima Aden is the first fully-covered Muslim contestant to participate in the Miss Minnesota USA competition.

by Hannah Ongley
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Nov 28 2016, 4:59pm

@kinglimaa

While our President-Elect attempts to pivot society's views on Islam back to the worst part of the very bad Bush era, one Muslim teenager is promoting a positive, progressive, and far more accurate perspective on the religion. 19-year-old Halima Aden has just made history by becoming the first person to compete in Miss Minnesota USA wearing a hijab and burkini. Aden competed against 45 women for the title of Miss Minnesota USA, and while she unfortunately didn't make it into the top five, just walking onto the stage is a pretty massive feat for the Somali-American who moved to the United States from a refugee camp in Kenya as a young child. Safe to say she's quite aware of America's many misconceptions about Islam. 

"This pageant is so much more than just beauty," Aden told Minnesota's MPR News ahead of the big night on Saturday. "Their whole message is being confidently beautiful, so I didn't think that I should allow my hijab to get into the way of me participating," Aden said. "This is a great platform to show the world who I am... just because I've never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn't mean that I don't have to be the first."

The Muslim community in Minnesota's St. Cloud, where Aden attends college, has become a hot-spot for anti-Islamic sentiment following the mall stabbing in September, and things haven't been improving since Donald Trump was named President-Elect. But rather than be unnerved by the recent increase in hateful rhetoric prompted by Trump's victory, she says the pageant couldn't have come at a better time.

"What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective," she said. "We just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people's eyes." If only our new President had the insight and wisdom of a 19-year-old girl. 

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Text Hannah Ongley
Image via Instagram