Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad’s official Barbie sports a hijab, as nonprofit Hello Hijab makes doll-sized headscarves for Barbie and friends.
Young hijabis have a new “Shero” of their own.
A Barbie modeled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American woman to compete in the Games wearing a hijab, is finally available almost 10 months after Mattel announced the history-making figure.
“She’s finally here!” Muhammad tweeted on Monday, with a picture of herself holding up her momentous miniature. “I’m happy to announce that you can now have your very own Ibtihaj Barbie doll starting today!”
She’s finally here! I’m happy to announce that you can now have your very own Ibtihaj Barbie doll starting today! Available on https://t.co/B93Io3bkKY and https://t.co/MJLAXLM8H4 for $30.99 ⚡️💗 #ibtihajbarbie pic.twitter.com/X4xfcTKcZn
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) July 30, 2018
Muhammad’s doll is the latest in the Barbie “Shero” program launched in 2015 that celebrates the real women breaking boundaries and shattering glass ceilings to inspire the next generation of girls, including Olympic gymnastics champion Gabby Douglas, and body activist fashion model Ashley Graham. The 32-year-old Olympian’s doll is sculpted in her likeness and dressed in her fencing uniform, complete with her hijab, sabre and mask. The $31.99 figurine available on Barbie.com and Amazon also comes with a doll stand for display, and a certificate of authenticity.
“When Ibtihaj Muhammad’s parents sought a sport that would allow their daughter to fulfill her competitive nature and be fully covered in accordance with her faith, they discovered fencing. Ibtihaj excelled at the sport,” Mattel writes on the doll’s webpage. “Competing as a saber fencer on the U.S. fencing team, she became the first female Muslim-American fencing champion to wear a hijab (a traditional head scarf). As a brilliant athlete, entrepreneur and inspiration to girls who never saw themselves represented, Ibtihaj is not only celebrated for her accolades but for embracing what made her stand out. Ibtihaj is honored as a Barbie ‘Shero,’ a woman who has broken boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls. Girls need more role models like Ibtihaj, because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning.”
When Muhammad’s “Shero” doll was first announced, she also tweeted a snap of herself a prototype of her doll, adding, “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.”
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
“Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out,” said Sejal Shah Miller, Vice President of Global Marketing for Barbie, 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.”
Muhammad was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2016, and has launched her own Louella fashion line of modest – yet still stylish – dresses, jumpsuits, maxi cardigans and skirts.
“Through playing with Barbie, I was able to imagine and dream about who I could become,” Muhammad told Glamour. “I love that my relationship with Barbie has come full circle, and now I have my own doll wearing a hijab that the next generation of girls can use to play out their own dreams.” The doll will be available in 2018, and Shero Barbies run $24.99 to $29.99.
While this is the first Barbie to come packaged wearing the headscarf worn in public by some Muslim women, a small Pittsburgh nonprofit has already been crafting hijabs for children to put on their dolls. For Good hopes that by encouraging tolerance of the cultures that wear headscarves during playtime, this acceptance will spread from Toyland to the real world.
For Good hopes that by encouraging tolerance of the cultures that wear headscarves during playtime, this acceptance will spread from Toyland to the real world.
“A hijab is the traditional covering for the hair and neck that is worn in public by some Muslim women,” For Good cofounders Gisele Fetterman and Kristen Michaels explain on their website. “Hello Hijab believes that while we may look different and have different beliefs, our similarities far outweigh our differences. We strive for a world where we all live and love together.”
The group’s $6 handmade “Hello Hijab” went on sale in the U.S. in April 2017, with all proceeds benefiting nonprofits supporting local organizations working toward human rights and diversity work. Many of the tiny hijabs are even recycled from headscarves donated by Muslim women who also want a better future for their daughters.
Muslim Americans have long been been targeted by hate crimes and anti-Islam rhetoric, which the Pew Research Center reported spiked to 9/11-era levels last year. Women wearing headscarves have been especially vulnerable, so For Good hopes that Hello Hijab will normalize religious wear. Barbie is still Barbie, whether she covers her head with a hijab or a hat.
“During these tense and very charged times, this concept might sound naive — and maybe it is,” the nonprofit organizers added. “But we believe that there has never been a better time to reach out and do something positive for someone else.”
This article was originally published in March 2017, and has been republished with the new Ibtihaj Muhammad Barbie.
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