The outrage is intense
Barbie dolls have been around for decades. Over the years, the manufacturer Mattel has been working to make the line of plastic dolls more inclusive and realistic. Of course, this started by just having a brunette doll, but by now they’re working hard to make sure kids everywhere see themselves in their Barbies. They’ve also been known to create special edition dolls modeled after famous and important women like actresses and film characters. Barbie recently announced that they would be create a line of dolls based on prominent women of color so that children everywhere could be inspired by their accomplishments.
Their latest doll is based off of an Olympic Bronze Medalist, yet it’s one simple piece of clothing that has people threatening to boycott Barbie for good.
Ibtihaj Muhammad was born in New Jersey to American parents of African-American descent, and the family converted to Islam when Ibtihaj was young. Ibtihaj chose to wear a hijab and strove to find a school sport that would allow her to keep her hijab on while she played. Fencing was a great choice for her, and not just for that reason. She also excelled at the sport!
She made it all the way to the Olympics and became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the U.S. Ibtihaj took home the bronze medal in individual sabre in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
For her efforts, Ibtihaj was granted a huge honor: Her likeness would become the next Barbie “Shero” doll. She promoted the doll at Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit, and said, “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.”
Her doll will join the likes of director Ava Duvernay, ballet dancer Misty Copeland, and gymnast Gabby Douglas. It is slated to hit store shelves in 2018.
Mattel was happy to make Ibtihaj a Shero doll because she’s an inspiration not only to young female athletes but Muslim girls who may feel discriminated against in American culture. Barbie’s Vice President of Global Marketing Sejal Shah Miller said in a statement, “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything.”
Ibtihaj is 31 years old now, and she had Barbie dolls when she was a child. However, her parents only allowed her to have certain dolls. She explained:
“I only had brown Barbie dolls growing up and I think that was an effort made by my parents to see us reflected in the dolls we played with. It’s revolutionary to make all kids ― no matter your skin color, your gender, your ethnicity, your religious beliefs ― feel included.”
She feels so proud to work with a brand that showcases women of many races and careers.
Many people are excited to see Ibtihaj get her own doll, and they love seeing this new inspirational line of toys. Of course, there have been black Barbies before, so the most striking feature of her doll is the hijab. Naturally, fans of the doll have much to say about the clothing item.
Twitter user @ChristinaMets15 said about the hijab, “I know several Muslim women at my college who 100% chose to wear hijab and they are the most independent headstrong women in the program, so get your archaic xenophobia outta here. The oppression is culture specific, not religion specific.”
Twitter user @X5Dragon concurred, “Hijab/Viel is a symbol of modesty if you disagree with that is fine but don’t state your ridiculous, Hollywood inspired opinions as facts. Muslim women for the most as well women of other faith are very proud of their choices and will defend their rights.”
Unfortunately, others are furious over the new Barbie, mostly because they feel that it promotes Islam, a religion that they view as violent. The comments left on the Barbie Twitter page are filled with hateful comments about the hijab-wearing doll for children.
Twitter user @tyrekecorrea stated, “Putting the doll out without the accompaniment of all the facts is basically condoning murder. They didn’t even retail the Abby Wambach Barbie doll; we were basically tricked. This is unfair.”
User @worldly401 said to ESPNW, Barbie, and Ibtihaj “[You are] now boycotted. Mohammad oppressed women starting a petition. This is pure evil.”
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