Talk about a big first for U.S. toy companies.
In 2018, Mattel Inc. plans to sell its first hijab-wearing Barbie. The doll is based on Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first U.S. Olympian to wear a headscarf while competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Barbie comes fully equipped with fencing gear, a mask, sabre, tennis shoes and a hijab. It will be sold in the “Shero” line, alongside new dolls inspired by female role models such as Trisha Yearwood, Gabby Douglas and Misty Copeland.
A Duke University graduate, Ibtihaj grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, and began fencing at 13. The 31-year-old is known as an advocate for Muslim women, fighting stereotypes and discrimination, Hannan Adely reported for NorthJersey.com.
The Barbie was presented to Ibtihaj at Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit, where she talked about her unique experience:
“When I think about my own journey, me being a Muslim girl involved in the sport of fencing, there were people who made me feel like I didn’t belong… For all those people who didn’t believe in me, this Barbie doll is for you.”
When Ibtihaj was young, she used to wrap tissue around her Barbies’ heads like a hijab to make them look more like her and her sisters. “Today,” she added, “I’m proud to know that little girls who wear hijab and, just as powerfully, those who don’t, can play with a Barbie who chooses to wear a headscarf.”