Pathbreaker Halima Aden serves as a global spokesperson for the Vita Coco Project

03 Sep 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Halima Aden who rose to fame after she was the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA 2016 pageant, where she was a semi-finalist. She was the first fully covered Muslim woman to compete in the state pageant and she entered the pageant with an intent on breaking barriers for Muslim women, to counter the negative image that they are oppressed. Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA, said the inclusive event supports Aden’s right to wear whatever she feels most comfortable in because the pageant empowers “women to be confidently beautiful.” She later served as a preliminary and telecast judge of the Miss USA 2017 pageant.

Recently, Vita Coco, the world’s leading coconut water brands has been working hard to make it through such tough times. Halima has been announced as the Chief Coconut Officer for the brand and she will serve as a global speaker and advocate for the project that is aiming to help the company drive its social impact imitative which is to support coconut farming communities in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The production of coconut water currently creates thousands of job opportunities and Vita Coco has been working on their long-term mission to impact one million people in the communities. The impact on the community is usually done by paying farmers a reasonable local wage, building 30 safe classrooms for K-12 education, and giving more than 80 scholarships to top performing students in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The organization stated, “She embodies the playful spirit of coconuts, the vibrancy of the communities where they come from, and understands firsthand how our initiatives can have a positive impact on the communities where we source.”



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The diva who was announced as the Chief Coconut Officer has mentioned, “Now more than ever, it’s really important to me to partner with brands that share my vales. After I visited the coconut farms with Vita Coco last year, I saw that work that they do firsthand and the impact it has. I knew it was an organization that I wanted to be a part of.”

Halima who grew up in a refugee camp may have changed the world upside down for her with her hard work and efforts but she has fond memories of her youth and the community that existed while she was in the refugee camp and gave her the sense of authentic empathy. Vita Coco’s resources and Halima’s mission to make job opportunities as well as impact the communities in the positive way is commendable.

After her stint at Miss Minnesota USA 2016, she was quickly snapped up by a modelling agency, becoming the first hijab-wearing woman to walk the runway for top designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, and Moschino. She had told multiple sources both before and after the pageant was over, despite not winning, she hoped her participation would serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many different forms. She continued to add to her collection of "firsts," receiving an astounding amount of press when she became the first model to wear a burkini for the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition and her meteoric rise shows no sign of slowing. In just a few years, Halima has graced the covers of British Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and Allure, in addition to becoming an ambassador for UNICEF in 2018. For her latest collaboration, Halima teamed up with jewelry brand Pandora to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pandora Moments charm bracelets.



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In a recent interview, she was asked about how does she feel about breaking the boundaries and stereotypes, to which she answered, “Even in my short three years in the [fashion] industry, from being the first hijab-wearing model to, now, seeing countless girls proudly working while wearing their hijab, it's incredible! They're accepted, and they're just killing it. We're headed in the right direction, but we need to do more. We need to make space and allow everybody to have a voice and a seat at the table so that they can feel supported and grow. I pray that we continue this path and not treat this [diversity] as a trend because it needs to be embedded in our industry, culture, and society so that it’s not even something we need to talk about.”