WASHINGTON – In a breakthrough in the 58-year company’s history, Barbie has released its first hijab-wearing doll, modeled after US Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad.
“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 PeopleStyle.
“To be included in this conversation is very humbling and I’m over the moon about this whole thing.”
The new doll was unveiled at Glamour’s Women of the Year Live Summit on Monday.
It is the latest doll in Barbie’s “Shero” line, a program that celebrates boundary-breaking women intended to inspire the next generation.
Along with Muhammad’s doll, the line included dolls modeled after Ashley Graham, Zendaya, Kristin Chenoweth, Gabby Douglas, Emmy Rossum, Trisha Yearwood, Misty Copeland, and Ava DuVernay.
“It’s so cool to see myself in this little doll form with my fencing uniform on,” she said, calling the experience “super humbling.”
“It says my name on the back and it has a fencing mask and the little sabre. I just love it.”
Muhammad said she was keen on ensuring that her doll would be a realistic model of her.
“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,” the fencer said.
“I’m also really big to into eyeliner. 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,” she added.
The fencer, who is the first hijabi athlete to represent the US in the Olympic games, praised Barbie for releasing a hijab-wearing doll.
“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 says.
I’m really excited … 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.”
For her, the new Barbie doll opens many more doors of creativity for children when they play with Barbie.
“I come from a pretty small sport that a lot of people had the opportunity to learn about last summer at the Olympic games and now to even have fencers in the conversation,” she says.
“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.”
Muhammad hopes the company’s move will open the door for more inclusive representation in the doll market.
“When I found out I was the first woman in a hijab, I thought for sure Malala Yousafzai would have one,” she said.
“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. I’m gonna tell Mattel to streamline that. I’ll be the agent on that.”