Toy company Mattel unveiled its very first hijab-wearing Barbie as part of its “Shero” (she + hero) collection dedicated to honoring strong and influential women such as Ibtihaj Muhammad, an Olympic fencer who became the first American to compete at the Games while wearing a hijab.
“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,” said Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing.
The doll, which was announced on Monday at Glamour’s Women of the Year summit, will hit stores in 2018. The Muhammad-inspired Barbie becomes the latest addition to the Shero line, which has also venerated fellow Olympian Gabby Douglas, ballerina Misty Copeland, plus-size model Ashley Graham, and director Ava DuVernay.
“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab!” Muhammad wrote in a celebratory tweet. “This is a childhood 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
Toys ‘R’ Us, among Mattel’s biggest customers, announced last month that it would file for bankruptcy. Mattel blamed the goliath toy retailer’s dire financial straits for its own sagging performance, which saw it suffer a 22 percent decline in sales in North America and a 13 percent drop worldwide.
Barbie sales remained relatively unscathed, falling 6 percent year-over-year. In the last few years, Mattel has endeavored to broaden the doll’s appeal by rolling out numerous variations that are more inclusive of other body types.
In 2016, Barbie debuted tall, petite, and curvy varieties to go alongside the original Barbie, which many body positivity activists have decried as glamorizing an unattainable body type for young girls.
“We have to let girls know it doesn’t matter what shape you come in, that anything is possible,” a Barbie exec said in a video announcing the new models.