There’s a new first for Barbie — Barbie with a hijab. The Mattel doll was inspired by U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first American athlete to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympic Games last year (where she also won a bronze medal, NBD).
We are so excited to honor @IbtihajMuhammad with a one-of-a-kind #Barbie doll! Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries. #Shero #YouCanBeAnything #GlamourWOTY pic.twitter.com/oV0e6ClgL6
— Barbie (@Barbie) November 13, 2017
Muslim women and girls are underrepresented in toys and fashion, but this new and high-profile doll is a step in the right direction. As Barbie’s vice president of global marketing put it:
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.
Recent years have seen the American Muslim community targeted by hate crimes. Earlier this year a mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground. Newsweek has pointed out that of all hate crimes, anti-Muslim attacks “now account for 4.4 percent of all reported hate crime, even though Muslims are estimated to be only 1 percent of the population.”
It’s not just about preventing violence though — it’s also about education promoting diversity. A doll may seem simple, but it goes a long way to normalizing Muslim culture. According to Public Religion Research Institute, 6 in 10 Americans have rarely, if ever, engaged in a conversation with a Muslim. Most Americans also say “they know little (57%) or nothing at all (26%) about Islam,” as pointed out by CNN.
Which is why Barbie in a hijab is really pretty amazing.