Mattel unveils first Barbie to wear a hijab

The doll, made in Olympic fencer Ibtihaji Muhammad’s likeness, is another step in the toy company’s effort to appeal to more consumers through diversity.

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.”

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.

Though the announcement has brought mixed reactions online, Muhammad has been sharing her support on social media platforms and in media interviews:

The BBC reported:

“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.

NPR reported:

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.

The New York Post reported:

“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?

Topics: PR

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