Halima Aden celebrates SI swimsuit issue: 'Don't change yourself'

By Annie Martin

April 30 (UPI) -- Halima Aden is celebrating her appearance in the 2019 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

The 21-year-old model voiced her gratitude in an Instagram post Monday after becoming the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the annual issue.


"Don't change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!!" Aden encouraged her followers.

"Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It's sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings... can stand together and be celebrated," she said. "Thank you so much @si_swimsuit & the entire team for giving me this incredible opportunity."

Models Iskra, Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow were among those to voice their support for Aden in the comments.

"IM CRYING... this is everything," Iskra wrote. "I'm so proud of you and to every Muslim girl out there that never felt represented you can do it."


"Halimaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Yes. Yes. Yes," Graham added.

"Game CHANGER," Harlow said, adding three heart emojis.

Aden, who is of Somali heritage, was born at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and moved to the United States at age 7. She returned to Kenya to shoot her Sports Illustrated spread at Watamu Beach.

"I keep thinking [back] to 6-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp," the model told Sports Illustrated during the 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."

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