Halima Aden quits runway and refuses to compromise her integrity

  • Halima Aden quits runway modelling

  • She states that she feels she has compromised too much on her ideology

  • Aden speaks out about the decisions that have led her to this point

  • Her mother has been a grounding force for Aden

Halima Aden quits runway after taking time to re-evaluate her commitment to her culture and religion in a move which sees her heralded as a champion for integrity in an often fickle industry.

Halima Aden, a US model who made her debut at New York Fashion week in 2017 and who has since fronted fashion campaigns for both Kanye West and Rihanna, has announced her decision to quit runway model due to her religious integrity.

Halima AdenUpon appearing in her runway debut at the young age of just 19, Halima Aden, who is Muslim, was hailed as the first hijab-wearing supermodel. However, now, at 23 years old, Aden has had the chance throughout the coronavirus pandemic to re-evaluate her position in the industry and the compromises to her faith that she has had to make as a result.

Halima Aden took to social media to announce to her 1.2 million followers her decision and the journey that led her to it in a series of Instagram story posts.

Aden said, “As I’ve said many times… being a minority inside of a minority inside of a minority is never easy.”

“Being a ‘hijabi’ is truly a journey with lots of highs and lows.”

She also took to Twitter to say “Fashion was NEVER for me. I am for the PEOPLE! I am for my IMAAN! I have WOKEN UP!!!”

Aden has been hailed since she first stepped onto the modelling scene for increasing the diversity of the industry and for remaining true to her beliefs and representing them with her global platform so that young girls and women who can finally see themselves represented in the fashion industry.

Halima AdenThe irony of the praise that Aden continually received was that all the while she was increasingly feeling like she was being encouraged to undermine her faith and her values. On occasions she was required to replace the traditional hijab with other items of clothing for shoot purposes and even had times where she was unable to undertake obligatory prayer times as required by her Islamic faith.

In one instance, when modelling for American Eagle Outfitters, Aden agreed to be draped in jeans across her head instead of wearing her hijab. The decision was made in good faith however upon returning to her hotel rooms she has stated that she sobbed.

The irony of the shoot and the situation was that the tagline for the campaign was “Find you style” and Aden has explicitly expressed on her Instagram story that the attire and situation that she found herself in wasn’t even her style. It is clearly evident from her posts that she feels that this specific shoot compromised her beliefs and cheapened her integrity.

Halima AdenShe said, “”But… this isn’t even my style?? Never was. Why did I allow them to put jeans on my head when at the time I had only ever worn skirts and long dresses?”

“I went back to my hotel room & just sobbed after this shoot because deep down I knew this wasn’t it. But was too scared to speak up.”

“The truth is I was very UNCOMFORTABLE. This just ain’t me.”

When Aden broke onto the modelling scene she was hailed as a bastion of diversity and now she is being lauded as a champion of integrity, and quite rightly so. In many industries where minorities are under-represented it is familiar to hear stories of individuals slowly eroding their own values to “fit in”.

In the four years since she exploded onto the fashion scene, Aden has featured on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Allure, Essence, Gracia, Paper, Teen Vogue and Glamour, to name but a few. However, she has continually struggled with balancing the fine tightrope walk between respecting her culture and values and conforming to the requirements of her job and its industry.


Aden has said that her mother has been a shining light for her and helped her to understand and ground herself during the difficulties she was facing.

Halima Aden

Aden said, “[My mother] has been pleading with me for years to open my eyes,”

“Thanks to Covid & the break away from the industry I have finally realized where I went wrong in my personal hijab journey.

“Looking back now I did what I said I would never do.”

Aden continued, “My hijab journey was the STRONGEST when I was surrounded by my sisters. That’s a theme I’m discovering about myself now.”

“My hijab was on point when I was surrounded by my Somali culture.”

Halima AdenDespite her announcement of quitting the industry, Aden said she would be onboard with continuing to model however with the explicit caveat that her hijab would always “visible” in a way that fully represents her and her faith.

She said, “If my hijab can’t be this visible- I’m not showing up period.”

“This is the standard moving forward if you want to work with me. Come correct or don’t come at all.”

Aden has shattered the glass ceiling for hijab-wearing women in fashion and now she is showing the same women that integrity matters and that respect should be shown to all without comprise or exception.


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“Halima Aden quits runway and refuses to compromise her integrity”

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