WASHINGTON: Barbie manufacturers Mattel, Inc. have revealed the first ever hijab-wearing Barbie doll modelled after Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.
31-year-old Ibtihaj became the first US Olympian to compete in fencing in a hijab last year during the Rio Olympic Games.
The one-of-a-kind doll was unveiled at Glamour’s Women of the Year Live Summit on Monday by the athlete herself.
As reported by People, Muhammad worked with Mattel every step of the way in the design process and said her resemblance to the doll was uncanny. Something that she made sure her doll featured was a realistic sense of her body type and her signature eye liner.
“It’s so cool to see myself in this little doll form with my fencing uniform on. It says my name on the back and it has a fencing mask and the little sabre. I just love it”, she said.
Thank you @Mattel for announcing me as the newest member of the @Barbie #Shero family! I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true #shero pic.twitter.com/py7nbtb2KD— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) 13 November 2017
Muhammad’s doll is a part of the ‘Shero’ line of Barbie dolls that also includes women like Ashley Graham, Zendaya, Kristin Chenoweth, Gabby Douglas, Emmy Rossum, Trisha Yearwood, Misty Copeland and Ava DuVernay.
There was a time when Barbie dolls were criticised by people for setting unrealistic body and fashion standards for small girls. However, manufactures Mattel, Inc. broke this image associated with the doll with the ‘Shero’ line (that would be female heroes), a programme that celebrates boundary-breaking women intended to inspire the next generation.
Muhammad said, “I’m excited to just partner with a brand that I know honours powerful women who are breaking barriers and whose sole goal is to impact the future leaders of tomorrow”.
“To be included in this conversation is very humbling and I’m over the moon about this whole thing," she added.
Commenting on the importance of representing the first-ever hijab-wearing doll, Muhammad said, “I’m really excited to have this moment happen in my life and also for all these little girls now who can shop for Barbie doll that may look them, may wear a hijab like they do, or like their mom does, or like a friend does. But also have kids who aren’t Muslim, who don’t wear a hijab, to also have the opportunity to play with a doll that wears a hijab."
“It’s cool to have Muslim girls in the conversation, to have African Americans as fencers is also really cool. I feel like we’re just shattering all the little glass ceilings here”, she added.
She hopes that this is just the start of more inclusive representation within the doll market and knows who she would like to nominate for a Shero doll next year.
“I think it would be cool to have Malala have a Barbie doll. Her story line in general would be great to teach our kids today”, she concluded.
The Ibtihaj Barbie will be released to the public in the fall of 2018.