Remember Hijarbie? Haneefa Adam has been styling Barbie dolls, often based on inspiring real-life women, with homemade doll-sized hijabs and sharing pictures on her Instagram account. She did it to address the overwhelming lack of representation and to inspire young Muslim girls. Now, Mattel is releasing its first-ever official hijab-wearing Barbie doll.
The doll is modeled after Ibtihaj Muhammad, the US fencer who became the first Olympic athlete to compete while wearing a hijab. The doll will be part of Barbie’s “Sheroes” line. Other dolls in the line include ballerina Misty Copeland, gymnast Gabby Douglas, and director Ava DuVernay, so the Ibtihaj doll will be in very good company. The doll was revealed at the 2017 Glamour Women of the Year Awards. Muhammad’s doll is dressed in a white fencing outfit and includes a helmet and sword. The likeness is striking, as the doll even has Muhammad’s characteristic winged eyeliner.
How does the Olympian feel about her new doll? She told ESPN, “It’s inclusive and encompassing so many different types of people in just this one little doll, and I am over the moon excited about it.” She describes how as a girl she sewed hijabs for her Barbies while wishing there was a doll that looked like her. To have that childhood dream realized is pretty amazing. She believes that it is important to recognize and celebrate differences and thinks dolls are one way to do that. “This will show children how to embrace what makes them different,” she says, “and to remind them that they’re beautiful and they can be whatever they want.”
The doll won’t be available to purchase until 2018 but there are a lot of parents already eager to buy it. Like the other dolls in the Sheroes line, it will be a limited edition doll. Once it’s sold out, that’s it. In today’s divisive political climate with continual Islamaphobic rhetoric, Mattel’s decision to release this doll is something of a political statement. The doll will almost certainly inspire some harsh criticism and blowback on Mattel. Taking a stand for inclusivity and diversity, though, has proved to be a wise business decision for other companies.
What does “Hijarbie” think of this? Haneefa Adam shared a throwback photo on Instagram of when she styled her own Ibtihaj Muhammad doll and wrote that she was glad to see that Mattel was making it official. We’re glad, too.