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Muslim Barbie to hit shelves before Olympics

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Back to Article

Muslim Barbie to hit shelves before Olympics

Courtesy of Mattel

Courtesy of Mattel

Courtesy of Mattel

Leslie Mendez, Staff Writer

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The first Barbie doll wearing a hijab will be selling in 2018. Mattel, the maker of Barbie, announced that their new upcoming doll in the Shero Campaign will be modeled after Olympic Fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad.

The Shero Campaign is about creating Barbies that are modeled after important women who are considered heroes. It is meant for “female heroes who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere,” according to Mattel.

“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,” said Muhammad, at the Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit in New York, where the doll was announced. “For all those people who didn’t believe in me, this Barbie doll is for you.”

Junior Rameezah Ahmed, a Muslim girl who wears a hijab, has felt the same way as Muhammad. “As a Muslim girl who wears a hijab, if you do something bad or out of the norm, they’re going to assume that all hijabs are like that.”

Yacodou Johnson and Rameezah Ahmed

 

In 2016, Muhammad, 31, became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab in the Rio Olympics, where she earned a bronze medal. This grabbed the media’s attention and she decided to take advantage and make it into something great.

Muhammad spoke to her agent about her idea of having her own Barbie doll but never knew her idea would be taken seriously until Mattel approached her.

“To have Mattel approach me to be a part of their Shero campaign is an amazing honor. I feel like I’ve always embraced being ‘different’ — in respect to breaking boundaries, being an African-American Muslim woman in the sport of fencing — I feel blessed to have this partnership.” Muhammad said in an interview with ESPN.

“You don’t really see in the media people wearing a hijab, so for a Barbie doll wearing it, I think it is awesome,” Ahmed added. “I think that it is showcasing that the Barbie dolls can have different variations.”

Senior Yacodou Johnson said her mother wears a hijab. “Dolls really show beauty standards. It shows that no matter where you come from, or how you look, or how you’re shaped, you are still beautiful,” Johnson says.

Muhammad started fencing at the age of 13 in Columbia High School in Maplewood N.J. From a young age, Muhammad loved sports but had a hard time finding one that would cover her body fully. Until one day she discovered fencing when seeing high school students stepping out from their school. The uniform is what grabbed her mother’s attention and urged her to be in that sport. It was the only sport they knew would accommodate their religion.

It also made Muhammad satisfied that everyone had to cover their heads and this way she was no longer looked at as different. She became comfortable with herself and started loving herself for the way she is.

The new hijab doll is a big accomplishment for Muhammad and a powerful message for all women in different races and culture.

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Muslim Barbie to hit shelves before Olympics