Fashion Focus: Halima Aden is on the cover of Sports Illustrated

This is the first time the iconic magazine features a hijab wearing model in a burkini.

Halima Aden is the first muslim model in a hijab and burkini on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Photo: Yu Tsai for Sports Illustrated

By Leen Altiman

Fashion 29 April 2019

This is the first time the iconic magazine features a hijab wearing model in a burkini.

This is a big deal. Huge. Possibly a game changer.

Sports Illustrated has featured its first ever Burkini cover girl.

In case you don’t know her, Halima Aden is a Somali American supermodel has just made history by becoming the first Muslim model to appear on the cover of sports illustrated wearing a hijab and burkini.

Halima revealed her cover on Instgram today with the caption:

“Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!! Being in Sports Illustrated is so much bigger than me. It’s sending a message to my community and the world that women of all different backgrounds, looks, upbringings… can stand together and be celebrated. Thank you so much Sports Illustrated & the entire team for giving me this incredible opportunity.”

Sports Illustrated also chared the cover with the caption:

“@halima is #shatteringperceptions as the first woman to wear and hijab and burkini on the pages of #SISwim. Click the link in bio to learn more about her historic shoot in Kenya.”

They also shared the below video of Halima on location in Kenya for the now iconic shoot shoot.

Who would have thought that when the burkini first went mainstream as an item of clothing to be laughed when it was featured in the questionably racist movie, Sex and City 2 in 2010 that nine  years later it would be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

For many, this is another right move towards a wider spectrum of representation for Sports Illustrated. In 2016, they featured plus size supermodel Ashley Graham, on the cover. Traditionally the publication has been synonymous with featuring models of “certain type” in bikinis on the beach, often or not in suggestive poses.

Which makes us think, what does it mean when a publication that has a large readership of men, has a woman in burkini on their cover?

Other than this possibly being an attempt at remaining relevant, where diversity is expected, pushed and championed on all media, does it mean that burkinis are sexy now? Are burkinis becoming common place on American beaches and swimming pools? Is this a political and social statement when it comes to a women’s choice of what she wears and how she wears it, even on the beach?

Let’s not forget, the burkini it still a controversial item of clothing in places like France where some authorities have proposed banning it as it, arguably, defy laws of secularism.

Despite this, we can’t emphasis enough what an image like this on an iconic magazine such as Sports Illustrated means going forward in the fashion industry. An industry that has and still does dictate the definition of beauty. A definition that often excluding women of colour, modestly dressed women and Muslim women.

No matter your existential beliefs on what a burkini on the cover of Sports Illustrated could mean, you can’t deny that Halima Aden looks good in those photos.

And you aren’t the only one.

As usual, Twitter and Instagram are ablaze with comments and opinions on what some people are calling a controversial cover.

Below are some that we collected. We have not added any comments that are racist.

So tell us, what do you think of Halima Aden on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

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