In an effort to stay relevant, Sports Illustrated continues to push boundaries and change the perception of the female body with their famous Swimsuit edition. Not only have they featured plus-size models on the cover, well before it was popular to do so – now they’re turning over a new leaf by featuring a 21-year-old Muslim model who will be wearing a full burkini for the photo shoot.
This is the first time Sports Illustrated will feature a burkini in the Swimsuit issue. And the model featured in the image is 21-year-old Halima. She is a Somali-American model who was born at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. She lived in that camp for years before her family obtained the opportunity to immigrate to the United States when she was seven.
The photo shoot took place in her birth country at the gorgeous Watamu Beach. Although the Swimsuit edition has yet to be released, Sports Illustrated has released a few behind-the-scenes shots showing how she is wearing a variety of colorful and beautiful burkinis as well as hijabs. The photographer behind the camera is Yu Tsai.
The Swimsuit issue will hit stores on May 8 and is highly anticipated – especially because it continues to break barriers. Halima will be featured in a spread within the magazine and is breaking ground as being the first Muslim model to wear burkini and hajib in the magazine.
The model is featured in several poses while on the beach. In one image, she is lying on the wet sand wearing a burkini that is colorful and designed with a geometric pattern.
Going from a refugee at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, and as an asylum seeker in the United States, she could not help but reflect on the journey that led her to this day where she became the first model to wear a burkini for the famed Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.
“I keep thinking (back) to six-year-old me who in this same country was in a refugee camp,” she told the magazine. “So to grow up to live the American dream (and) to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya – I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”
Because Sports Illustrated was making history by featuring Halima in full burkini, they released a behind-the-scenes video to show what the photo shoot was like. And when you watch it, you’ll be enthralled as thousands of other viewers have been.
“This is literally a dream come true,” she said. “I can’t even tell you how this feels.”
In the video, Halima wears a black burkini with her name across the front. In the clip, she jokes about how she is a “burkini babe.”
Because she is helping to make the Muslim attire more normal and less scary to people of the West, she is proud. When she grew up as a young girl in the United States, very few people looked like her in the media. By being a pioneer in the modeling industry, she can help inspire other young girls to live their dreams, which makes the United States a better place for everyone.
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.