Sports Illustrated is breaking the boundaries with its 2019 Swimsuit issue.
On Monday, April 29, the magazine announced that Somali-American Halima Aden would be the first model to appear in the magazine wearing a hijab and burkini.
Making history, the 21-year-old wore two different burkinis: a black one by No Ka’Oi and a multi-colored style by Cynthia Rowley.
Shot by photographer Yu Tsai, the pictures were taken in Aden’s birthday country Kenya — specifically on Watamu Beach. “I keep thinking [back] to six-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden told the publication 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 model is no stranger to breaking down walls when it comes to the her traditional clothing. When she was just 19, Aden became the first woman to wear the modest swimwear in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. She then went on to sign with IMG, becoming the first hijab-wearing model to sign a contract with the agency.
“Halima you are beauty personified,” S.I.’s editor MJ Day wrote on Instagram announcing the spread. “Thank you for sharing that with makes you so special with us all. Thank you for being the bright light that we all need to see. Thank you for the dance parties to Beyoncé and sing a longs to ‘Jambo Wanna’ and reinforcing that beauty knows no boundaries.”
The publication has been working for years to make its Swimsuit issue more inclusive. In 2016, Ashley Graham graced the cover as the first curvy model to appear on it. Since then she’s paved the way for models like Hunter McGrady and Veronica Pome’e, who have also appeared in SI issues.
“Sports Illustrated is proving that a girl that’s wearing a bikini could be right alongside a girl that’s wearing a burkini,” Aden told Good Morning America on April 29. “And as women we can come alongside each other and be each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”
The Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue will hit newsstands on May 8.