At only 21-years-old, Aden has had a legendary amount of firsts, and they are all arguably a result of her abiding by her own set of rules. In 2016, for example, she went viral at the Miss Minnesota pageant, after she became the only individual in history to ever wear a hijab while competing.
The following year, she was signed as IMG’s first hijabi model. And now, Aden just made history once again as the first person to ever wear a burkini on the glossy pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, available on newsstands now.
“It’s so overwhelming, but in the most beautiful way,” Aden tells me with a wide, glimmering smile, reflecting on her extraordinary career. “Just three years ago, there was not a single [signed] hijab-wearing model.”
Aden’s energy is naturally vivacious, but when she speaks of her professional success — especially the recent SI photos — it multiplies tenfold.
Yet, for her Sports Illustrated debut, it was all about where she was born. While Aden shares that her burkini spread is the highlight of her career thus far, the fact that it was shot in her home country turned the already glorious experience into a beautiful full circle moment.
It also helped her to see Kenya in a whole new light. “It was special,” she muses. “We stayed in Watamu, at a beautiful beach resort town, which is a days travel from the refugee camp that I was born in — just such a contrast to where I grew up.”