Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and her Barbie.
Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and her Barbie. Getty / Craig Barritt

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Since 1959, Mattel, the company behind Barbie, has been inspiring girls to dream... and to diet. For decades Barbie has been known for her smooth blonde hair, pale white skin, and impossible proportions.

However, over the past few years Mattel has worked on diversifying the range of Barbie dolls, which, to date, come in three body sizes (tall, petite, and curvy), seven skin tones, 22 different eye colors, and 24 different hair styles.

But for the first time ever, Barbie will now wear a hijab.

Mattel is set to release a doll modeled after American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won the bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Muhammed is known for being the first Muslim American to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympic Games.

The doll was debuted yesterday at Glamour's Women of the Year Summit in Brooklyn, NY.

"When I was growing up, I didn't have many options of dolls that looked like me," Muhammad said at the summit. "But today, we're changing that."

Muhammad told People that she worked with the doll’s designers every step of the way to make sure the doll was as close to her likeness as possible. She had the doll’s thighs made to be more muscular to reflect a fencer’s need for strong legs to “propel ourselves into lunges,” and she added her signature winged eyeliner.

“I like to think of my eyeliner as a shield of power,” Muhammad said. “I not only wear it to the grocery store but I also wear it to compete. I wore it to the Olympic games, so I wanted my Barbie to have the perfect winged liner and also to wear a hijab.”

Muhammad said at the Glamour summit that she used to sew hijabs for her dolls when she was younger, and now she hopes that this will help young girls across the country to embrace what makes them unique.

“I think it’s revolutionary for Barbie to take a stand in this moment that we’re in—and I would say, as a country, to have a doll wear a hijab and be the first of its kind,” she said.


Muhammad tweeted on Monday thanking Mattel for welcoming her into the “Shero” family, which celebrates women role models. Other dolls in the “Shero” category include models of Ava DuVernay, the world renown director of Selma and 13th, and Gabby Douglas, the three-time Olympic gold medal gymnast. Zendaya, Misty Copeland, and Ashley Graham have also been included in the series.

Although Mattel is being applauded for donning Barbie with a hijab, Nigerian medical scientist Haneefa Adam already made a replica of Muhammad in 2016 on her Instagram account hijarbie. It is unclear if Mattel approached Adam about her concept before making their official Barbie.

And of course, the angry conservative moms are all set to boycott Mattel (probably because Teen Vogue loves it).