American-Somali model Halima Aden has become the first Muslim model to wear a hijab and burkini in the high-profile Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is published annually and its cover photograph features women fashion models wearing skimpy swimwear in exotic locations.
It is mostly read by men and feminists have said the magazine promotes the idea that women are a product for male consumption.
Halima Aden was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp, where she lived until the age of seven before moving to the United States. For her SI Swimsuit spread she travelled to her birth country where she was photographed at Watamu Beach.
“I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Halima said during her shoot. “So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya – I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”
The magazine commented: “From landing the cover of British Vogue to walking on New York Fashion Week runways, Halima has proved that there is a place for modest Muslim women in the fashion industry. At SI Swimsuit, we strive to continue to spread the message that whether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty.
“We believe beauty knows no boundaries,” added SI Swimsuit editor MJ Day. “I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for and her work with Unicef as an ambassador. She is, in my opinion, one of the great beauties of our time, not only outside but inside. When we met, I was instantaneously taken by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity.”
However, among her fellow Muslims the reaction was not so positive, with many saying that she had devalued the concept of the hijab which is primarily about modesty.