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Muslim American sportswoman inspires hijab-wearing Barbie doll

Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal

News 16 Nov 2017, 15:21 IST

2016 Team USA Media Summit - Portraits
US Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad

By Seema Hakhu Kachru

Houston, Nov 16 (PTI) The iconic Barbie doll has donned a 'hijab' for the first time!

The new version of the doll has been modelled on fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal.

Muhammad, 31, who won bronze in the women's team foil in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is also the first female American Olympian to compete while wearing the traditional Muslim head covering.

She is also the first Muslim American athlete to win an Olympic medal.

Toymaker Mattel, which manufactures the Barbieline, said the doll will be available online next year.

The doll is part of the Barbie "Shero" line that honours women who break boundaries.

Past dolls have included gymnast Gabby Douglas and film director Ava DuVernay.

Beginning in 2015, the Barbie 'Shero' programme ('Shero' is a portmanteau of the words 'she' and 'hero') has honoured women who have pushed boundaries, challenged gender norms, and inspired young girls.

Muhammad said she felt it was her duty towear her 'hijab' in solidarity with other Muslim women, particularly in the US.

Her 'Shero' doll features her in her fencing uniform, helmet in hand, wearing her hijab.

"I had so many moments as an athlete, where I didn't feel included, where I was often in spaces where there was a lack of representation," Muhammad said on Monday at the Glamour Women of the Year gala in New York.

"So to be in this moment, as a US Olympian, to have Mattel, such a global brand, diversify their toy line to include a Barbie doll that wears a hijab is very moving to me," she said.

Indian American vice president of global marketing for Mattel, Sejal Shah Miller praised Muhammad for representing Muslim girls in a public and visible way.

"Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honouring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything," she said.

Muhammad also described her days playing with Barbie dolls as a little girl.

"Through playing with Barbie, I was able to imagine and dream about who I could become. I love that my relationship with Barbie has come full circle. Now, I have my own doll wearing a hijab that the next generation of girls can use to play out their own dreams," she said

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