Here’s a story of an 18-year-old Somali make up artist who is using social media to make a name for herself and her work. CGTN’s Abdulaziz Billow caught up with Maryan Ahmed Ali, Mogadishu’s finest bride and makeup artist.
Hamdia Ahmed Is the First Miss Maine Pageant Contestant to Wear a Hijab
TEEN VOGUE — Hamdia Ahmed took to Twitter to share history-making news. She’s the first Miss Maine contestant to wear a hijab and burkini during the pageant.
According to her profile, Hamdia was “born in Somalia,” and “raised in a refugee camp in Kenya.”
She took part in the pageant this December and wore exactly the looks that she wanted to. In one photo, she donned a gold long-sleeve gown with a light pink hijab, and in another, likely for the swimsuit portion, she wore a burkini. She tweeted: “I competed in Miss Maine as the first Muslim girl with a Hijab. I slayed my hijab.”
While this is a milestone achievement for the Miss Maine competition, this isn’t the only pageant where a woman embraced modest fashion, and made headlines. Last November, Halima Aden wore a hijab in the Miss Minnesota competition, and went onto become a celebrated high-fashion model.
Later, Muna Jama made history by refusing to wear a bikini during the swimsuit portion of the Miss Universe competition, opting to don a kaftan instead.
Though a few brands like Nike and American Eagle are now including hijabs in their repertoire, and incredible young women like Hamdia and Halima are pushing for them to be more visible in pageants and fashion magazines alike, we still see stories of discrimination against Muslim women — specifically related to their hijabs — every single day. There’s no denying that Hamdia did, in fact, “slay” her hijab and we loved every minute of it.
Halima Aden Explains Why Somalia Needs Your Support
TEEN VOGUE — The country of Somalia means a lot to me. It’s the home I never got to see, but feel so connected to. My family is from Somalia and my mother fled due to the civil war, which has been ongoing for decades. Although I was born in Kenya, I will always be a Somali first.
My mother was the one who told me about the bombing that occurred in Mogadishu on October 14. A few weeks prior, she had just gotten back from Kismayo, a different city in Somalia. When we talked about her trip, she had so much hope and wanted to go back as soon as possible. She was absolutely devastated. My heart broke for the victims and their families.
Thankfully, my family is safe and were not in Modgishu. We checked in with family and friends and everyone is safe — but far from alright. We are still mourning for the hundreds of innocent lives lost. Those killed were people, not numbers. This was a horrible tragedy that affected Somalis around the world. It is the deadliest bombing in the country’s history. A lot of innocent lives were lost.
There was a lack of media coverage about the bombing, which was disheartening, but I’m grateful for all the people who have shown their support for Somalia.
France dimmed the lights on the Eiffel Tower to remember the victims, Turkey has shown support, as has Canada.
Tragedy is tragedy, no matter where it happens in the world. I think it’s important that we pray for all the victims. Show compassion to your Somali coworkers and neighbors.
You don’t know if that person just lost a parent, a friend, or their entire family. Teens have the power of reaching people an ocean away by simply using their social media to raise awareness. Your thoughts and prayers will let them know that they are not forgotten about.
I want the world to know that Somali people are resilient and will overcome this tragedy. I have always had hope for my country and I know this evil will not be how our chapter ends. Above all, I want people to know that Muslims are allies against terrorism — not the enemy.
World’s only hijab-wearing supermodel defends garment
In November 2016, Denise Wallace, Executive Co-Director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant got a phone call from 19-year-old Halima Aden, a freshman of St. Cloud State University asking if she could compete – while wearing her hijab.
It was the first time Ms Wallace spoke with the teen, pulling up her information on her computer.
“Her photo popped up. And I remember distinctly going, “Wow, she is beautiful. I mean I just remember that reaction that I had,” Ms Wallace recalled.
Now the world’s only hijab wearing super model, the Somali-American teen said that wearing the headscarf is simply a part of who she is.
“I wear the hijab every day,” Ms Aden told Reuters.
“It was a no-brainer.”
After the competition Ms Aden made headlines as the first hijab and burkini-sporting contestant in the history of the pageant, the bold move catapulting her career to new heights involving many “firsts”.
Freshly signed by IMG in February, she made her modelling debut on the catwalk of Kanye West’s Yeezy show in New York. Ms Aden as the only hijab-wearing model signed by a major modelling agency to date.
Following her success in New York, she walked on the international runways of Italian fashion houses Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti, alongside the likes of Gigi Hadid and Liu Wen.
Coinciding with Ms Aden’s success, the hijab – one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture – is going mainstream as well, with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.
Nike announced it is using its prowess in the sports and leisure market to launch a breathable mesh hijab in spring 2018, becoming the first major sports apparel maker to offer a traditional Islamic head scarf designed for competition.
American retailer American Eagle Outfitters has also created a denim hijab with Ms Aden as its main model. The youthful headscarf sold out in less than a week after it was made available online.
Beauty bible Allure magazine’s editor-in-chief Michelle Lee was also in the mix, putting Ms Aden on the front cover of the magazine’s July issue, describing her as a “normal American teenage girl”.
“She is someone who is so amazingly representative of who we are as America, as a melting pot it totally made sense for us,” Ms Lee said.
Ms Aden was born in Kakuma, a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya, and made it to the United States at the age of seven where she initially settled in St. Louis, Missouri.
She fondly recalls her time at the refugee camp, where children from different religions celebrated each other’s holidays.
“Different people different refugees from all over Africa came together in Kakuma. Yet we still found a common ground,” she said.
“And then coming here it was a little different because that wasn’t always the case.”
In America she became an A-student and homecoming queen at her high school, but always noticed that there were no Muslim-Americans in the media that she could look up to.
Her ultimate goal is to become a role model for Muslim-American youth.
For any hijab-denouncers, Ms Aden always stresses that she started wearing hers in the hopes to resemble her mom.
“Anything in life, if it’s not your choice, it’s oppressive. So I’m not going to argue against that. But for the majority it’s a choice. Like for me it was a choice,” she said.
By her side is Ms Wallace, who now travels the world as her manager, making sure that Ms Aden’s customs are respected.
Most of the time people are understanding, but even if they are not, Ms Aden said that she doesn’t pay too much attention.
“I am doing me and I have no reason to think that other people are against me. So I just I guess I’m oblivious,” she said.
For now Ms Aden is content being a champion for diversity in the modelling industry, but in time she hopes to return to Kakuma to work with refugee children to show them they all have the potential to become international stars.