Finally the hijab is getting the representation it deserves. We know – about time, right? First came Halima Aden, the first-ever hijab-wearing model to be signed to major agency IMG. Then Nike launched its inaugural sports Pro Hijab created for Muslim athletes. Now Mattel – the toy giant behind the world’s most famous blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll – has finally embraced diversity by creating a hijab-donning doll.
It’s not just any old doll, either. It’s been inspired by Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first-ever American to compete in the games while wearing a hijab. The Barbie is identical to Ibtihaj, right down to the white fencing suit, mask and headscarf. “Through playing with Barbie, I was able to imagine and dream about who I could become,” said the athlete, who won a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. “I love that my relationship with [her] 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 new doll, available to buy next year, is the latest addition to the Barbie Shero programme – a line of diverse Barbie dolls that are modelled on and celebrate a real cross-section of female heroes. Other dolls in the range include plus-size supermodel Ashley Graham and award-winning director Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to direct a US$100 million film, Selma.
“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. “She’s an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honouring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything.”
Photos: Getty Images