The creators of Barbie have just announced that the latest doll in their popular “Shero” collection is modeled after the first American to compete in the Olympic games while wearing a hijab, Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Muhammad made history in 2016. Now, the Barbie modeled after her will be making history as the first to appeal to Muslim girls everywhere who choose to wear a hijab.
On Twitter, Muhammad celebrated the announcement, saying that this was a dream come true.
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
Barbie has been working on broadening its appeal among the diverse United States population ever since 2015 when Mattel, which makes Barbie, launched its Shero line.
Some of the dolls in the collection include models based on actress Zendaya; Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas; ballerina Misty Copeland; and director Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at Sundance.
Mattel also launched a line of dolls celebrating body positivity, while also expanding the Ken doll collection by making the doll available in different body types and skin tones.
Despite the move toward being more inclusive, which was meant to appeal to a greater number of kids nationwide, the company said Barbie sales have dropped 6 percent this year.
With the new doll modeled after Muhammad coming in 2018, the company hopes to reach out to a greater number of girls while showing them that there’s no need for them to fear being who they are.
To Barbie's vice president of global marketing, Sejal Shah Miller, the new addition to the Shero collection will give girls who never felt they were being fairly represented the chance to play with a doll that looks just like them. But more than that, the doll modeled after Muhammad will remind girls that aiming high and making dreams come true is for everyone.
“Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything,” Miller said in a statement.
It’s great to see Barbie dolls being modeled after real world women who work hard to achieve their dreams, teaching children that the sky is the limit and that nobody should tell them otherwise.
Perhaps now that Barbie dolls will also appeal to Muslim girls, more American Muslims will feel more confident and less afraid of embracing their traditions in public.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Andrew Kelly