Ibtihaj Muhammad, First-Ever U.S. Olympian To Compete In Hijab, Gets First-Ever Hijab-Wearing Barbie
Image via Mattel
In its “Sheroes” series of Barbies, Mattel has crafted dolls after the likes of women doing groundbreaking work in their fields, including ballerina Misty Copeland, director Ava DuVernay, actress Zendaya and Olympian Gabby Douglas. The toy company’s newest addition to this line of dolls is the first-ever hijabi Barbie, crafted after the first-ever hijabi U.S. Olympian, Ibtihaj Muhammad.
The 31-year-old Maplewood, New Jersey native (whose African-American family converted to Islam) and sabre fencer won a bronze medal while competing with Team Sabre during the Rio Olympics. While prepping for the games in Rio, Muhammad wasn’t afraid to talk about the misconceptions people have about Muslim women who wear hijabs, and in the tense political climate, about Muslim people in general.
“Wearing the hijab is a reminder to myself, in a society that is not predominantly Muslim, of being aware of your own religion,” she said in an interview with the BBC. “Being in sport, it is part of my journey and as an individual, the hijab has always felt right for me.”
And it’s that comfort in the look, despite what people may say or think, that has motivated and inspired other young women and hijabi athletes alike. Hence the reason there is now a hijab-wearing Barbie.
“I’m excited to just partner with a brand that I know honors powerful women who are breaking barriers and whose sole goal is to impact the future leaders of tomorrow,” she said to PEOPLE. “To be included in this conversation is very humbling and I’m over the moon about this whole thing.”
According to PEOPLE, Muhammad was very involved in the creation of the doll, so aside from the hijab, it has her fencing uniform, mask and sabre, her signature winged liner, her muscular legs and her Nikes.
The opportunity to be immortalized into a Barbie doll is a major thing, and to have that honor while also representing for a group of people who could use more representation in all facets is something Muhammad is especially grateful for.
“I think its revolutionary for Barbie to take a stand in this moment that we’re in – and I would say, as a country, to have a doll wear a hijab and be the first of its kind,” she said. “There has never been a Barbie doll to wear a hijab before. 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.”
Unfortunately though, if you were looking to get this particular Barbie for your child this Christmas, they’ll have to wait until the next holiday season. Muhammad’s doll hits toy stores in the fall of 2018.