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Muslim Teen Breaks Barriers By Competing in Miss Minnesota Pageant in Burkini

And she made it to the top 15!

Halima Aden made history at the Miss Minnesota USA pageant over the weekend by strutting her stuff in the swimsuit competition not in the typical itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini but instead fully clothed, making the 19-year-old Somali-American college freshman—who came to America when she was 7—the first Muslim woman to compete in the pageant in a traditional burkini and hajib:

"What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective," the teen explained to Minnesota Public Radio. "This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people's eyes."

Mad respect!

Of course, this is not the first time Aden has refused to let history stand in her way. She was also the first Somali-American in her college student government, and she was named homecoming queen during high school.

 

"When I see that there hasn't already been somebody [in that role]," she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "I take that as a challenge for me to give it a try."

Amazing attitude! And while, in the end, Aden didn't take home the sparkly crown, she did crack the top 15. But the real prize, she told the Tribune, has been all the messages she's received from young girls who have been bullied for dressing in religious attire.

"That's made me so proud to be a part of this," she explained. "Just give it a try. You might not win, but maybe the fifth, sixth girl will win. Don't let anything get in the way."

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.