Usually, Halima Aden is an open book. As the first hijabi model to get signed by a major agency, from day one she's been outspoken about the challenges she's had to overcome, what it's like being based in Minnesota (not New York, contrary to popular belief!), and how being a refugee has shaped her life. She always keeps it 100 with her fans, so at the launch of Max Mara's capsule collection exclusive to the Middle East (which she happens to be the face of), Bazaar asked Aden to tell us one secret that they might not know about her.
Without missing a beat, she told us: "A lot of people don’t know that I actually have two birthdays." Naturally, we needed answers immediately.
"I was a refugee and my mom lost my birth certificate...so when we moved to the States, they needed a birthdate for me. We couldn’t provide them with a date, so they gave me the birthday of January 1," she told us. "A lot of refugees have that birthdate, but just two years ago my mom met a guy who is Somali; His son and I were born in the same camp, four hours apart on the same day! So she asked him if he'd written the birthdate down and he still had [his son's] birth certificate. That’s how I got to know my actual birthdate. Only 2 years ago I got to know that my birthday is Sept 19!"
Halima was born in the Kakuma camp in Kenya where her family moved to escape the Somali war. She lived there until she was seven-years-old before being resettled in St. Louis, Minnesota, in the U.S. She dreamed of one day working with the United Nations to help refugee children — and now in addition to becoming one of the world's most-recognized supermodels, she's an avid activist for refugee rights and a UNICEF ambassador.
She answered our next question before we could even ask: "I do celebrate both the birthdays! Last September I celebrated my 21st birthday and the next January I will celebrate my 22nd...so I want gifts for both!" she laughed.
Her most recent b-day, she posted on Instagram: "Time to celebrate my birthday! The greatest gift you can give is helping children who have been uprooted by donating to @unicefusa." Always using her platform to support causes close to her heart.