The stunning young woman, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and hopes to become a U.S. ambassador, was the first Somali-American to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA, sporting a hijab for all four rounds of the competition—and the first to don a burkini in the swimsuit portion of the competition. Just watch that strut:
Aden placed as a semi-finalist in the top 15, and even though she didn’t win, she said that she’s proud to represent Muslim women. “A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it,” she told Minnesota’s KARE 11. “So growing up I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” said Aden. She also used her platform to combat Islamophobia.
“The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group,” she said. “I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.”
Earlier this month she told The Huffington Post, “As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light. But you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”
These comments are particularly badass in light of the disparaging comments President-elect Donald Trump made about Somalian refugees during his campaign, when he claimed that the state of Minnesota had suffered by accepting them. (Interestingly enough, the winner of Miss Minnesota USA goes on to compete in the Miss USA competition, the winner of which goes on to compete in the Miss Universe contest, formerly owned by Donald Trump.)
Aden may not have won this time, but her inspiring and groundbreaking presence in the competition helps chip away at our outdated standards of beauty while also tearing down the various inaccurate stereotypes and stigma refugees and Muslims face.