BURNSVILLE, Minn. - Forty-five women are competing in this weekend’s Miss Minnesota USA pageant. Among them is one teenager who will stay covered

Halima Aden, 19, of St. Cloud, is wearing her hijab and was fully covered during the swimsuit portion of Saturday’s competition. She is the first competitor to wear that attire in the state pageant.

“A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it, so growing up I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” said Aden.

Halima Aden (Photo: KARE 11)
Halima Aden (Photo: KARE 11)

Aden was born in Kenya and moved to Minnesota as a child.

Aden decided to wear her traditional clothing because that is what she is more comfortable in and to inspire others to embrace themselves.

“Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are,” said Aden.

Pageant officials support Aden’s choice to be fully covered.

“I think for Halima standing on the stage this weekend she is showing other women that they too can do that and that it's possible for them,” said Denise Wallace, executive co-director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Aden says she has received some negative feedback about her decision, but mostly positive and is concentrating on that.

"I just want people to love who they are," said Aden.

The pageant continues on Sunday when the winner of Miss Minnesota USA will be announced. The winner will represent Minnesota at the nationally-televised Miss USA pageant in 2017.