At Glamour’s Women of the Year summit, Mattel announced the first hijab-wearing Barbie in their collection. The Barbie is part of Mattel’s Shero collection and is modelled on Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing for the US Olympics team. She was also the first American Muslim woman to bring home a medal, winning a bronze in fencing at the 2016 Olympic Games.
When Mattel came to her with the proposal, Muhammad wept. “When I was a kid, I remember people commenting on the size of my thighs,” she told The New Yorker. “Then I got involved in sports, and I came to appreciate my body.” Muhammad was involved in the design process, requesting that the doll have strong legs and wear both dark eyeliner and a hijab – just like Muhammad herself.
Muhammad was involved in the design process, requesting that the doll have strong legs and wear both dark eyeliner and a hijab – just like Muhammad herself
The announcement is even more heartwarming given that, at a MAKERS conference earlier in the year, Muhammad spoke out about the discrimination that American Muslims face. She revealed that in December she had been held at US customs for two hours without explanation: “I don't know why. I can't tell you why it happened to me, but I know that I'm Muslim. I have an Arabic name. And even though I represent Team USA and I have that Olympic hardware, it doesn't change how you look and how people perceive you.”
Muhammad will join a host of other amazing women that make up the Shero collection, including Gabby Douglas, Ava DuVernay, Misty Copeland and Ashley Graham.
In a press release, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing highlighted exactly what made Muhammad qualify as a Shero. “Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out,” said Sejal Shah Miller. “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be, and do, anything.”
The doll will be available for purchase in 2018.