This article originally appeared on people.com.
Halima Aden didn’t win the Miss Minnesota USA pageant Sunday night, but she made history nonetheless.
The 19-year-old Somali-American became the first to compete wearing a hijab, and later donned a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the evening.
The Muslim teen, who moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, after immigrating at age 7, hoped her platform would change minds about Islam.
“For a really long time I thought being different was a negative thing,” Aden told CBS Minnesota. “But as I grew older, I started to realize we were all born to stand out, nobody is born to blend in. How boring would this world be if everyone was the same?”
The ambitious teen — who dreams of being a U.N. ambassador — wasn’t deterred by the lack of a road map for fellow Muslim women in the pageant world.
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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
“You don’t let being the first to do it stop you or get in the way,” Aden told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “When I see that there hasn’t already been somebody, I take that as a challenge for me to give it a try.”
Aden quickly made an impact on the Miss USA pageant, which is part of the Miss Universe organization that President-Elect Donald Trump previously owned.
But her mother didn’t share Aden’s enthusiasm for the pageant, and refused to attend.
“We do come from two different generations. I feel like we’re a little bit more Americanized than our parents are,” Aden said. “She doesn’t understand it because it’s not something that exists back home.”
Aden emphasized that wearing the hijab is not a sign of oppression — it’s an important choice.
“The hijab is a symbol that we wear on our heads, but I want people to know that it is my choice. I’m doing it because I want to,” she said. “I wanted people to see that you could still be really cute and modest at the same time.”Share :