“Being a housemaid was my backup plan if modeling had failed” – Supermodel Halima Aden

Supermodel Halima Aden has come a long way. Halima Aden is a Somali-American fashion model. She is noted for being the first woman to wear a burkini and hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. She was born and raised at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, she relocated to America with her mother at the age of seven.

She made her debut at the New York Fashion Week for Yeezy Season 5. She later served as a preliminary and telecast judge of the Miss USA 2017 pageantShe has since walked for numerous designers, including Maxmara and Alberta Ferretti. She has also participated in the 2016 Milan Fashion Week and London Modest Fashion Week. Aden posed for American Eagle and British Glamour, and has a CR Fashion Book cover

Aden was the first hijab-wearing model to walk international runways. In June 2017, she became the first hijab-wearing model on the cover of Vogue Arabia. She also became the first hijab-wearing model on an Allure cover, for their July 2017 issue. She recently became the first woman to feature on the cover of British Vogue wearing a hijab.

At 20, she is now gracing global runway shows.

In June, she visited the Kakuma camp for the first time since she left. Last week she was appointed a Unicef Ambassador.

She spoke to Nairobi News.

What went through your mind when you got a call to be a model?

I just remember going like ooh, is this a joke, is this a prank, like what is just happening. But it was incredible because that is not something that comes by everyday especially for me. I wear a hijab and that is something that has never happened before. So for me it was a big deal.

You are back in Kakuma for the first time since you left. What memories do you have of running up and down here as a kid?

I have so many memories, like they always just come to me and hitting me like a moth truck. I just have so many memories of what it was like to just have a tonne of freedom back then. Seeing it now I’m like maybe that was not a good idea but I remember just being with my friends, just going off alone and being gone for like hours, all day and running back home in time for supper or dinner. It’s nothing major but something small that reminds me of how it was to be a child here.Before you got your major break, you used to work as a housekeeper?

Yes, I did housekeeping for two years. For me I wanted to get my foot to hospital one way or another, so I applied for housekeeping and did it for two years.

Actually it’s funny because I was in housekeeping and doing modeling at the same time. The first six months of being a model I also kept my job for job security reasons. I did not know if it was going to go well or not do so well so it was my backup plan and I also liked my job.

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