Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad inspires the first hijab-wearing Barbie

By Helen Ruhlin

Staff Writer

The​ ​newest​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Barbie®​ ​“Shero”​ ​collection ​was​ ​recently​ ​announced to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​replica​ ​of​ ​Ibtihaj​ ​Muhammad,​ a ​member​ ​of​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​fencing​ ​team​ ​and​ the ​first Muslim​ ​American​ ​woman​ ​to​ ​wear​ ​a​ ​hijab​ ​during​ ​the​ ​Olympic​ ​games.​ ​The​ ​exciting​ ​report was​ ​made​ ​public​ ​at​ ​Glamour’s​ ​“Women​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Year”​ ​event​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York​  ​on Nov 13.

Source: The Washington Post

Ruth​ ​Handler,​ ​co-founder​ ​of​ ​Mattel,​ ​Inc,​ ​started​ ​the​ ​well-known​ ​doll​ ​company back​ ​in​ ​1959​ ​after​ ​noticing​ ​her​ ​daughter’s​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​traditional​ ​toys.​ ​Over​ ​the years,​ ​Barbie®​ ​has​ ​faced​ ​a​ ​multitude​ ​of​ ​criticisms​ ​due​ ​to​ ​its​ ​classic​ ​depiction​ ​of​ ​a primarily​ ​white,​ ​unrealistic​ ​female,​ ​promoting​ ​controversial​ ​body​ ​standard​ ​beliefs. Despite​ ​mixed​ ​opinions​ ​on​ ​the​ ​blonde-haired,​ ​blue​-eyed​ ​face​ ​we have​ ​all​ ​come​ ​to​ ​know, Barbie®​ ​has​ ​managed​ ​to​ ​sell​ ​over​ ​800​ ​million​ ​dolls,​ ​raking​ ​in​ ​around​ ​one​ ​billion​ ​dollars annually.​ ​In​ ​recent​ ​years​ ​however,​ ​the​ ​multi-billion​ ​dollar​ ​company​ ​has​ ​managed​ ​to diversify​ ​its​ ​product,​ ​now​ ​selling​ ​Barbie​ ​dolls​ ​of​ ​varying​ ​shapes,​ ​colors​, ​and​ ​sizes.

Barbie®​ ​created​ ​the​ ​“Shero”​ ​campaign​ ​in​ ​2015​ ​in​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​celebrate ground-breaking​ ​women,​ ​and​ ​inspire​ ​girls​ ​everywhere.​ ​The​ ​collections​ ​initial announcement​ ​included​ ​six​ ​females,​ ​recognized​ ​for​ ​their​ ​endeavors​ ​in​ ​breaking boundaries​ ​in​ ​the​ ​modern​ ​world.​ ​Since​ ​2015,​ ​Barbie®​ ​has​ ​added​ ​numerous​ ​impressive women ​such​ ​as​ ​Olympic​ ​gymnast ​Gabby​ ​Douglas,​ ​film​ ​director​ ​Ava​ ​Duvernay,​ ​fashion icon​ ​Ashley​ ​Graham,​ ​and​ ​several​ ​more.

Ibtihaj​ ​Muhammad​ ​will​ ​now​ ​be​ ​the​ ​first​ ​Barbie​ ​doll​ ​to​ ​wear​ ​a​ ​hijab​ ​in​ ​history,​ ​and is certainly​ ​an​ ​inspirational​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​the​ ​collection.​ ​The​ ​striking​ ​fencer​ ​was​ ​born​ ​in​ ​New Jersey,​ ​to​ ​Denise​ ​and​ ​Eugene​ ​Muhammad.​ She ​grew​ ​up​ ​honoring​ ​traditional​ ​Islamic values​ ​alongside​ ​her​ ​four​ ​siblings,​ ​including​ the ​practice​ ​of​ ​proper​ ​dress​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Muslim woman.

​Muhammad ​attended​ ​Columbia​ ​High​ ​School,​ ​in​ ​Maplewood,​ ​New​ ​Jersey,​ ​where​ ​she was​  ​introduced​ ​to​ ​fencing​ ​after​ encouragement ​from​ ​her​ ​parents​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​sport​ ​that would​ ​allow​ ​her​ ​to​ ​wear​ ​a​ ​hijab.​ ​Muhammad’s​ ​fencing​ ​career​ ​thrived​ ​throughout high school,​ ​eventually​ ​leading​ ​to​ ​a​ ​scholarship​ ​at​ ​Duke​ ​University,​ ​where​ she graduated​ ​with​ ​bachelor’s​ ​degrees​ ​in​ ​both​ ​International​ ​Relations​ ​and​ ​African and African-American studies.

In​ ​2010,​ ​Muhammad​ ​joined​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​fencing​ ​team​ ​and​ ​by​ ​2016,​ ​made​ ​it to​ ​the​ ​Olympic​ ​Games​ ​in​ ​Rio​ ​de​ ​Janeiro.​ ​Unfortunately,​ ​Muhammad ​lost​ ​in​ ​the​ ​sixteenth round​ ​of​ ​the​ ​women’s​ ​individual​ ​saber​ ​event​ ​to​ ​Cecilia​ ​Berder,​ ​of​ ​France.​ ​Despite​ ​the saddening​ ​loss,​ ​the​ ​young​ ​fencer​ ​successfully​ ​made​ ​history​ ​by​ ​becoming​ ​the​ ​first American​ ​woman​ ​to​ ​wear​ ​a​ ​hijab​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Olympic​ ​Games​ ​and​ ​furthermore​ ​the​ ​first American-Muslim​ ​woman​ ​to​ ​receive​ ​an​ ​Olympic​ ​medal.

With​ ​an​ ​overwhelming​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​worldwide​ ​praise​ ​and​ ​support,​ ​Muhammad ​was​ ​over the​ ​moon​ ​at​ ​Glamour’s​ ​“Women​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Year”​ ​summit​ ​to​ ​announce​ ​the​ ​future​ ​production of​ ​the​ ​latest​ ​“Shero”​ ​doll.​ ​Glamour ​has​ ​held​ ​annual​ ​events honoring​ ​and​ ​empowering​ ​women​ ​making​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past 27​years.​ ​At​ ​this​ ​year’s​ ​summit,​ ​Muhammad ​found​ ​herself​ ​in​ ​the​ ​spotlight​ ​with​ ​her historic​ ​debut​ ​in​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​Barbie®.​ ​The​ ​revolutionary​ ​doll​ ​will​ ​sport​ ​a​ ​full​ ​fencing uniform​ ​and​ ​hijab,​ ​going​ ​on​ ​sale​ ​in​ ​2018.​ ​Through​ ​their​ ​successful​ ​attempts​ ​to​ ​diversify and​ ​broaden​ ​the​ ​possibilities​ ​of​ ​the​ ​historically​ ​unrealistic​ ​doll,​ ​Mattel,​ ​Inc’s,​ ​Barbie®, certainly​ ​stands​ ​by​ ​its​ ​familiar​ ​saying,​ ​“we​ ​girls​ ​can​ ​do​ ​anything.”