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Somali Super Model Leaves the Catwalk

Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing supermodel, quit the fashion industry in November saying it was incompatible with her Muslim religion. Here, in an exclusive interview, she tells BBC Global Religion reporter Sodaba Haidare the full story – how she became a model, and how she reached the decision to walk away. In 2017 when she signed with IMG, one of the biggest modelling agencies in the world, she added a clause to her contract making IMG agree that she would never have to remove it. In the last year of her career her hijab got smaller and smaller, sometimes accentuating her neck and chest. And sometimes instead of the hijab, she wrapped jeans, or other clothes and fabrics, around her head. Another clause of Halima’s contract guaranteed her a blocked-out box, allowing her to get dressed in the privacy of her own space. But she soon realised that other hijab-wearing models, who had followed her into the industry, were not being treated with the same respect. She would see them being told to find a bathroom to change in. “That rubbed me the wrong way and I was like, ‘OMG, these girls are following in my footsteps, and I have opened the door to the lion’s mouth.'”