Every news outlet from The Washington Post to Vogue to Al Jazeera is blaring the news that toy-maker Mattel has introduced the first-ever hajib-wearing Barbie doll, modeled on Olympian and Maplewood native Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Muhammad was the first athlete to wear a hijab while representing the United States at the Olympics last year in Rio. She also became the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal, taking a bronze in team saber in Rio in 2016. “Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries,” according to Mattel promotion materials at the Glamour Women of the Year gala in New York where the Barbie was introduced yesterday.
The new Barbie will be available for sale next year.
At the debut, Muhammad told The Associated Press, “I had so many moments as an athlete, where I didn’t feel included, where I was often in spaces where there was a lack of representation. So to be in this moment, as a U.S. Olympian, to have Mattel, such a global brand, diversify their toy line to include a Barbie doll that wears a hijab is very moving to me.”
Muhammad also reported that Mattel took all her feedback about the doll from the size of her legs to her eyeliner: “I know as a kid I was bullied for having larger legs, and sport taught me to embrace my body and to love my body and the strength that it could produce. I think that having strong legs helped me win a medal at the Olympic Games, so I wanted my legs to be larger, more athletic legs, toned legs. And I am very into eyeliner, so I wanted a strong-winged cat eye. And Mattel listened to everything, everything even down to the fabric of the hijab.”
Muhammad is a hero worldwide but particularly here in her hometown of Maplewood where the Township Committee declared September 10, 2016 “Ibtihaj Muhammad Day” and threw a parade in her honor.