Halima Aden, one of the first models to walk major international runways with a hijab on, has decided to step back from the fashion industry.
Taking to Instagram stories earlier on Tuesday, Aden, who is considered a trailblazer for Muslim models after appearing in campaigns for brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Mac, Fenty etc., shared that she felt her beliefs were being compromised.
Thanking the coronavirus lockdown and her mother for ‘opening her eyes’, Halima Aden said, “Being a ‘Hijabi’ is truly a journey with lots of highs and lows.” She went on to add, “Thanks to Covid and the break from the industry, I have finally realised where I went wrong in my personal hijab journey.”
Aden recalled instances from her career where she had felt that the industry was gradually infringing on her religious beliefs and negatively influencing them. Starting from the first ever campaign for Fenty where she thanked Rihanna for letting her wear her own hijab, Aden shared how projects got progressively more ‘out-of-touch’ for her.
She shared photos from her childhood and teenage, pointing out how consistent she was with her hijab and her personal style and how the relentless bullying she faced in the West convinced her to be a beacon of representation for kids like her.
Sharing an editorial shot of her with a jeans on her head substituting for a hijab with the slogan ‘Find Your Style’, Aden wrote, “But this isn’t even my style? Never was. Why did I allow then to put jeans on my head when at the time I had only ever worn skirts and long dresses?”
Aden went on to share more photos from different campaigns and editorials for big magazines, sharing her real thoughts about them which she had suppressed because she was “too scared to speak up.”
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“I can only blame myself for caring too much about the opportunity than what was actually at stake. I blame myself for being naive and rebellious,” she wrote.
However, she did have one direct complain for the fashion industry. “What I do blame the industry for is the lack of Muslim women stylists.”
“Looking back now, I did what I said I would never do. Which is compromise who I am in order to fit in,” she wrote.
“I had to make those mistakes to be the role model you all can trust,” she went on. “Remember I had no one before me paving the way so mistakes are part of the learning experience. I did good but that isn’t enough. We got to have these conversations in order to change the system truly,” she added, concluding her story.
She also mentioned that she would not be skipping her prayer time. “Fashion can wait. My Deen can not!” she said.