Who is breaking down some major barriers in the pageant world this week? Halima Aden.
Over the weekend, the 19-year-old made history by wearing a burkini and hijab during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
Born in a Kenyan refugee camp, the Somali-American teenager wore the traditional Islamic dress and full-body burkini during the event's swimsuit segment.
Halima Aden starts off Miss Minnesota USA's swimsuit segment to big cheers from the crowd. Announcer: "She's making history tonight." pic.twitter.com/OUvbHv6xct— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 27, 2016
She was welcomed with cheers and received support from all over the world.
Moving to St. Cloud, Minnesota, home to a large number of Somali refugees, at the age of six, Aden was one of the top 15 contestants in the two-day pageant.
"A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it. So growing up, I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing," the teen said in an interview with KARE-11.
"This is a big win for us, you know. I'm the first to do this and I'm hoping to see more Muslim women wearing burkinis and being celebrated," she said.
In another interview with ABC News, Aden touched upon America's struggle with images of Islamophobia and the perception of Muslim people.
"The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group," Aden said. "I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women."
Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, praised the teen for wearing both a hijab and burkini in the competition.
"I think for Halima standing on the stage this weekend she is showing other women that they too can do that and that it's possible for them," she said.
Although she didn't win the competition, Aden said her main goal is to inspire others to embrace themselves.
"Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are."
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