Model makes history by becoming the first woman to wear burkini in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Model makes history by becoming the first woman to wear burkini in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

Twenty-one-year-old Somali-American supermodel Halima Aden has made history by becoming the first woman to wear a burkini in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, representing a progressive move forward for the popular magazine.

In the past, Sports Illustrated has come under fire for only showing models of one body type and objectifying women.

Now, it is moving away from its past and not only showcasing women of different sizes, but different religions, with many Muslim women choosing to wear the burkini as an alternative to a traditional swimsuit or bikini.

Halima Aden posing in water in a burkini. Credit: Sports Illustrated

Aden moved to the United States in the US in 2004, having been born in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya.

In an interview with Good Morning America, she opened up about appearing in the magazine: "Sports Illustrated is proving that a girl that's wearing a bikini could be right alongside a girl that's wearing a burkini. And as women, we can come alongside each other and be each other's biggest cheerleaders."

Halima Aden standing up in water in a burkini. Credit: Sports Illustrated

The pictures in the issue were taken in Kenya, and Aden explained that it was an emotional experience for everyone involved:

"We definitely had a lot of moments where everybody was, like, breaking down crying because it's a huge moment," she said. "Oh my gosh, like, just thinking about it. It's just so monumental."

Halima Aden lying on the sand in a burkini. Credit: Sports Illustrated

The editor of the magazine, MJ Day, said that this issue is the "one of the biggest and broadest samplings of beauty that we've ever featured."

And for Aden, it's an example of how women don't have to change to conform to society's narrow beauty standards:

"Now girls are going to be able to see they don't have to change themselves," she said. "They don't have to conform to fit in."

Halima Aden smiling in a UNICEF t-shirt. Credit: UNICEF / Forbes

However, if the reactions to the issue on social media are anything to go by, it's clear that society has a long way to go when it comes to regarding women of different body types and religions as beautiful in their own right.

This is not the first time that Aden has made history. She was also the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. This won her international praise and led to her being signed with IMG Models.