Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad has been shrunk down to doll size. As it did for Ashley Graham and Ava DuVernay before her, Mattel has made a custom doll to honor the athlete, the first Muslim-American woman on a U.S. Olympic team to wear a hijab.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t have many options of dolls that looked like me,” said Muhammad at the Glamour Women of the Year Summit. “But today, we’re changing that.” When she was younger, Muhammad used to sew hijabs onto her Barbie dolls. “Now Mattel is doing it for us,” she added.
According to Mic, Muhammad was specifically chosen for a special release as a “shero.” Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing, said the doll may serve as an inspiration for young women. “Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out,” said Miller in a statement. “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything.”
The brand may have drawn inspiration from the Instagram account @Hijarbie, the “mini hijab fashion” blog that shows hijab-wearing dolls of all kinds of race and style. The dolls aren’t for sale, but with more than 79,000 Instagram followers, they clearly represent a market for Mattel.
Barbie’s “Sheroes” collection is the company’s attempt to “expand possibilities for women everywhere” with toys designed after a range of IRL female role models. Along with Graham and Duvernay, the collection includes Gabby Douglas, Misty Copeland, Eva Chen, Kristin Chenoweth, Emmy Rossum, and more. The dolls retail for $24.95, so your daughter can play with an Olympic gymnast or Broadway star instead of the shopping/beaching Barbies of yore. The Muhammad doll will be available starting in 2018.
As Muhammad herself said, “This is such a big moment for little girls everywhere.”
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