The traditional "swimsuit competition" has seen some new interpretations this year: Miss Teen USA made waves this summer by replacing it with a round filled with workout clothes, and a Miss Minnesota USA contestant has competed this weekend in that part of the beauty pageant in a hijab and burkini.
Halima Aden, 19, is the first contestant to wear a traditional Muslim headpiece in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant. The Somali-American teenager, who lives in St. Cloud, is wearing the hijab for the entire competition, and pairing it with a full-body bathing suit and a covered-up evening dress for different rounds of the contest.
Aden told TEGNA station KARE that wearing more modest clothing makes her feel most like herself.
“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. So growing up, I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing," she said. “Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are."
Aden, one of 45 contestants in the pageant that continues Sunday, is competing to represent Minnesota in the Miss USA pageant in 2017.