It’s a big step towards inclusivity for a corporation whose products are a big part of many childhoods. Mattel’s first hijab-wearing Barbie was unveiled this week. It’s a dream come true not only for the Olympian it’s modeled after, but for all the little kids who will now be able to play with a Barbie who looks like them.
The first hijab-wearing Barbie is modeled after Ibtihaj Muhammad, the fencer who won bronze in Rio last year and became the first US woman to wear the Islamic headscarf while competing at the Olympics.
Muhammad says growing up in New Jersey, she and her sisters used to make little hijabs out of tissue so their Barbies would look more like them. Thanks to the doll bearing her likeness, today’s kids won’t have to raid Kleenex boxes. Muhammad hopes to see the doll in non-Islamic houses, too.
"Today I'm proud to know that little girls who wear hijab and, just as powerfully, those who don't can play with a Barbie who chooses to wear a headscarf," she said at Glamour's Women of the Year summit.
Not only does the Olympian's doll have a hijab, but she’s got full fencing gear too. After all, this doll is an athlete. "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," says Muhammad. "For all those people who didn't believe in me, this Barbie doll is for you."
The doll is part of Mattel’s “” line of dolls based on real, inspirational women (Gabby Douglas, Ava Duvernay and Ashley Graham are all represented in the line). Unfortunately, she won’t arrive in time for Christmas. Mattel says the first hijab-wearing Barbie will be available in 2018.