For the first time ever, a woman will compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant while wearing a hijab.
Somali-American teen Halima Aden of St. Cloud is the first fully-covered Muslim contestant to participate in the competition, which will be held at the Ames Center in Burnsville Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available as of Saturday morning.
While most of the other girls will be wearing bikinis during the swimsuit portion of the competition, Aden will wear a "burkini" that covers nearly her entire body. And she has been modifying other revealing clothing like evening wear to be more modest, MPR noted.
Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, said in a statement that Aden’s burkini will be acceptable and the decision “is in line with the values of the Miss Universe Organization in empowering women to be confidently beautiful.”
She wants to break barriers
She's been bullied for her hijab and entered the contest to be a positive role model for Muslim women and to fight the stereotype that they are oppressed.
"What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective," she told MPR. "We just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people's eyes."
And she's used to breaking new ground – Aden told the Star Tribune that she was the first Somali-American to participate in student government in college and later crowned the first Muslim homecoming queen at St. Cloud’s Apollo High School.
If she wins Miss Minnesota, Aden will score a hefty prize package and move on to the Miss USA competition – the winner of that goes on to compete for Miss Universe.