Mattel unveils Barbie modeled after American Olympian

NEW YORK — Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad walked the red carpet for the Glamour Women of the Year gala in New York with a Barbie doll replica of herself on Monday.

Mattel Inc., the maker of Barbie says it will sell a doll modeled after Muhammad, an American fencer who competed in last year’s Olympics while wearing a hijab.

And the 31-year old medalist couldn’t be happier.

“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, so to be in this moment as a U.S. Olympian to have Mattel, such a global brand diversify their toy line to include a Barbie Doll that wears hijab is very moving to me, and I feel that it’s very revolutionary. I’m happy for our youth to have, you know – to have a doll that wears hijab. I think it’s an amazing moment for all of us.”

Muhammad proudly posed on the red carpet with the doll, and was happy that the toy company listened to her, especially when it came to body image.

“There was so much about the doll that was important to me. I know as a kid I was bullied for having larger legs, and sport taught me to embrace my body and to love my body and the strength that it could produce. I think that having strong legs helped me win a medal at the Olympic Games, so I wanted my legs to be larger, more athletic legs, toned legs. And I am very into eyeliner, so I wanted a strong-winged cat eye. And Mattel listened to everything, everything even down to the fabric of the hijab. I think they did a great job.”

“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,” Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing, said in a statement.

Muhammad, the first American to compete at the Olympics while wearing a hijab, won a bronze medal in fencing at the 2016 Rio Games.

Mattel Inc. says the doll will be available online next fall and is part of the Barbie “Shero” line, which launched in 2015, and honors women who break boundaries. The collection also includes Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, model Ashley Graham, ballerina Misty Copeland, director Ava DuVernay and actress Zendaya.

Barbie has been working hard in recent months to make its collection of dolls more diverse in an effort to broaden the brand’s appeal.

In 2016, Barbie rolled out tall, petite and curvy versions of the dolls.

The company followed suit with Ken dolls earlier this year. Barbie’s boyfriend is now available in three body types and seven skin tones.