Barbie is going where no Mattel doll has gone before.
Mattel recently unveiled the 10th doll in its “Shero” collection, which it modeled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaji Muhammad. Muhammad made history last year when she became the first member of a United States Olympic team to compete wearing a hijab, and Mattel is emulating the athlete with its first Barbie to wear the Islamic head scarf.
The collection represents “female heroes who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.”
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
The doll, which will be available for purchase next year, was announced at Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit. Muhammad joins several other women, including Ava DuVernay, Gabby Douglas, Kristin Chenoweth and Ashley Graham, whose likenesses are featured by dolls in the Sheroes collection.
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Though the announcement has brought mixed reactions online, Muhammad has been sharing her support on social media platforms and in media interviews:
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 😭💘 #shero pic.twitter.com/py7nbtb2KD
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) November 13, 2017
Thank you @Mattel for announcing me as the newest member of the @Barbie Shero family! The Barbie Shero Program recognizes women who break boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls and I am so excited to join this incredible group of women. 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 😭💘 #shero
A post shared by Ibtihaj Muhammad (@ibtihajmuhammad) on
“‘I’m excited to just partner with a brand that I know honors powerful women who are breaking barriers and whose sole goal is to impact the future leaders of tomorrow,’ Muhammad tells @PeopleStyle.” We’re excited, too! Thank you, @IbtihajMuhammad! ❤ https://t.co/n0SKckBU8S
— Barbie (@Barbie) November 13, 2017
“When I think about my own journey, me being a Muslim girl involved in the sport of fencing, there were people who made me feel like I didn’t belong,” Muhammad said.
“For all those people who didn’t believe in me, this Barbie doll is for you.”
Muhammad said she hopes the doll can help girls “embrace what makes them unique,” but Barbie’s new looks aren’t just meant to break boundaries. They’re also marketing moves designed to help Mattel boost declining sales by becoming more diverse.
Mattel has been working to move Barbie’s image away from the blonde-haired, blue-eyed and unattainably proportioned clone. In 2016, it rolled out its Barbie Fashionista’s line, with dolls of four body types, seven skin tones and 24 hairstyles. The new dolls have been credited with helping revive sales.
Even Barbie’s boyfriend Ken got a makeover earlier this year, with more than a dozen new dolls of varying shapes, shades and hairdos — man-bun included.
“Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out,” Barbie’s vice-president of marketing, Sejal Shah Miller, said in a statement. “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented. By honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything.”
What do you think about the new addition to Barbie’s lineup, PR Daily readers?