Mattel, the American toy manufacturing company, has released a new hijab-wearing Barbie doll in tribute to fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American to don the traditional Islamic headscarf while competing at the Olympics.
“We are so excited to honor Ibtihaj Muhammad with a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll!” Mattel wrote. “Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries.”
Muhammad won a bronze medal in fencing at the 2016 Olympic games as part of Team Sabre, making her the first female Muslim-American medalist.
“Thank you @Mattel for announcing me as the newest member of the @Barbie #Shero family!” she wrote on Twitter. “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.”
The Barbie unveiling represents another mainstreaming of the hijab, a broad term for Islamic modesty standards for women in how they dress. Nike announced earlier this year its plans to sell a “Pro Hijab” for Muslim women athletes.
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) November 13, 2017
Muhammad is not the first woman to have a Barbie doll made in her image, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Muhammad joins a number of history making women who have had special Shero Barbie dolls made in their likeness, including model Ashley Graham and Misty Copeland in 2016 and director Ava Duvernay in 2015.
“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,” Muhammad told People. “To be included in this conversation is very humbling, and I’m over the moon about this whole thing.”
Like Graham before her, Muhammad made sure the doll represented her in body shape and in her makeup. The sabre fencer is known for her signature eyeliner.
“I know that as an athlete I have larger legs—these strong legs that we use, especially fencers, to propel ourselves into lunges—and it was important for me to have my doll be as close to my likeness as possible. So I wanted to have athletic toned legs for sure. I’m also really big into eyeliner,” she said. “I like to think of my eyeliner as a shield of power; I not only wear it to the grocery store but I also wear it to compete. I wore it to the Olympic games, so I wanted my Barbie to have the perfect winged liner and also to wear a hijab.”
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