American model Halima Aden says she is quitting runway modeling as it compromises her religious beliefs.
The 23-year-old has appeared on the cover of British Vogue, Vogue Arabia, and Allure.
Writing on Instagram, she said the coronavirus pandemic had given her time to stop and think about what her values are as a Muslim woman.
“Being a ‘hijabi’ is truly a journey with lots of highs and lows,” she said.
Talking about accepting modeling jobs that went against her religious views, she said: “I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake.”
She added that problems came from there being a “lack of Muslim women stylists” within the industry who could understand why wearing a hijab was so important.
She’s received support online from model sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid and also from Rihanna.
Halima was born in a Kenyan refugee camp to Somali parents before moving to America aged six.
She was spotted by international modeling agency IMG Models at 18 while appearing in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant as a semi-finalist.
She was the first woman to wear a hijab in the pageant and soon became known for bringing a modest dress code to the world’s most famous fashion week shows.
She’s gone on to star in campaigns for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Kanye West’s Yeezy brand.
In her Instagram Stories, she praised Rihanna for letting her wear the hijab she wore to set.
She says she’s compromised her religion many times as part of her job – including missing prayer times set out in the Islamic faith or agreeing to model without a hijab on, using another item of clothing to cover her head.
She added that she had “sobbed” in her hotel room after shooting some campaigns over not speaking up about what she thought was right.
“The truth is I was very uncomfortable,” she wrote on Instagram.
“This just ain’t me,” she added.
In February this year, she told the BBC: “Modesty is not for one culture, it is not for one group of women. Modesty is the oldest fashion staple.
“It has been around since the beginning of time. It is going to be around for another 100 years. It’s an option, just another option for people to participate in.”
Originally published on www.bbc.com