Aden said in a tweet Monday that she is thankful for the distinction. The tweet was accompanied by an image of the magazine's January/February 2020 cover.
"A huge thank you to everyone who worked tirelessly on this historic 50th anniversary cover," Aden said.
The Somali American model also said the cover is the first she will appear on in 2020.
A spokeswoman for Essence described Aden, who was born in Kenya and moved to the United States when she was 7 years old, as a "beauty disruptor" in a statement to NBC News. Aden could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
"As we get ready to step into a whole new decade, Essence continues to break the mold," the spokeswoman said. The upcoming issue is "just a taste of how Essence is celebrating every black woman in 2020."
Essence shared a first look of its January/February 2020 cover and a statement about Aden on its website.
"There have been several moments in model Halima Aden’s life when she’s broken a barrier by simply being who she is," the statement said. "The model and activist was the first Muslim homecoming queen at her high school; the first Somali student senator at her college; and the first hijab-wearing woman to be the face of numerous fashion magazine covers, including Allure and British Vogue."
Aden, 22, made history earlier this year as the first woman to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue wearing a burkini, a full-body swimsuit worn by some observant Muslim women.
In 2016, Aden became the first contestant to wear a hijab and a burkini while competing in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, in which she was a semifinalist.
She told journalist Jeannine Amber, who wrote the Essence cover story: “It’s important for me to be visible and to do whatever I can to let girls know that they don’t have to change who they are."
“I want them to know the world will meet them exactly where they stand," Aden said.