The 19-year-old St Cloud college student was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, which borders Somalia, and moved Minnesota as a young child.
A burkini is a full-body wetsuit that covers the torso, limbs and head and is worn by some Muslim women. The garment became the centre of a controversial debate in France earlier this year, after officials in at least six towns on the Mediterranean coast banned women from wearing it on beaches.
Halima Aden starts off Miss Minnesota USA's swimsuit segment to big cheers from the crowd. Announcer: "She's making history tonight." pic.twitter.com/OUvbHv6xct
— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) November 27, 2016
“This pageant is so much more than just beauty. Their whole message is about being confidently beautiful, so I didn’t think that I should allow my hijab to get into the way of me participating,” Aden told Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) ahead of the competition.
“This is a great platform to show the world who I am. Just because I’ve never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn’t mean that I don’t have to be the first,” Aden continued.