American fencer and Olympic bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad has become the face of the first ever hijab-wearing Barbie.
The 31-year-old sportswoman rose to fame last year at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, after becoming the first female Muslim-American to earn a medal at the games, and the first American woman to compete while wearing the Islamic headscarf during the competitions.
“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,” said Muhammad on Twitter.
The Ibtihaj Barbie is part of Barbie’s “Shero” collection, a line that aims to recognize “female heroes who inspire girl by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.” Some of these Sheros include Academy Awards and Golden Globe nominated director Ava Duvernay, and plus-size international model Ashely Graham.
The athlete worked side by side with Mattel every step of the way in the design process, making sure that her doll featured a realistic sense of her body type and personal style. Muhammad made a few initial requests, including that the doll have big, strong legs, and that she wear dark eyeliner and the hijab.
In recent years, Mattel has introduced several new Barbie lines, including Fashionista Barbies, a collection of dolls which come in petite, tall, curvy, and original shapes.
Social media users applauded the move as a significant step towards representation.
“We now finally have a 2017 a hijab wearing Barbie with the last name Muhammad… Say it again for the People in the back: REPRESENTATION MATTERS,” said Qasim Rashid, a human rights activist.
“LOVE this! Barbie’s first doll with a hijab is modeled after Ibtihaj Muhammad. Representations matters. Black. Muslim. Magic,” said writer Britni Danielle.
The Ibtihaj Muhammad inspired Barbie, the first-ever wearing a hijab, will be available for purchase in 2018.