“I clothed myself in righteousness and it robed me; Justice was my cloak and turban.” Job 29:14 (The Israel Bible™)
A new hijab-sporting doll modeled on the Muslim Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will join the Barbie line in 2018, Mattel announced last week.
Part of the company’s “Shero” collection highlighting real-life women inspiring new generations, the new doll, outfitted in fencing garb, is modestly covered up from head to toe. She is the first Barbie ever to flaunt the hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women.
Muhammad was the first US Olympic athlete to compete wearing a hijab. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she also became the first Muslim American woman ever to take home a medal when she won a bronze in fencing.
Upon seeing her doll for the first time at the Glamour Women of the Year Summit, Muhammad called it a “perfect hijab moment”. She said that she had often sewn mini hijabs onto her own Barbie dolls as a child.
“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab,” the athlete tweeted.
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
The new hijab-wearing doll wears a fencing uniform and comes with a foil and helmet. Unlike the original large-busted and small-waisted Barbies, she has a muscled, athletic build.
Intended to celebrate diversity and achievement, the doll will help young girls embrace what makes them stand out, said a Mattel executive.
“Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented,” Sejal Shah Miller, vice president of global marketing for Barbie, told online magazine Dezeen.
In 2016, Mattel rolled out a new line of more ‘diverse’ Barbies featuring several different body types and seven different skin tones in response to criticism of its traditional blond-haired, blue-eyed hourglass-shaped doll.
The hijab and other Muslim coverings for women have become controversial in many countries, especially since refugee populations have shifted religious and cultural demographics in Europe over the past few years. The headscarf is often considered a symbol of failed integration and culture clash.
Many European nations have banned the burka, a full body covering, and any Islamic clothing which veils the face. In France, students below university age may not wear any religious symbols or clothes, including the hijab.
In some Arab states, like Saudi Arabia and Iran, all women are required to wear the hijab.