Barbie has had quite the face lift over the past couple of years. When she first hit the scene back in 1959, Barbie inspired many girls to dream big–you can have the car, the house, the clothes, the hair, and yes, the man. However, as time has gone on, many of us have come to realize that Barbie not only represents an unrealistic standard of beauty, but just standard in general. Who is built like that? Who has EVERYTHING, ALL the time? And why is it only exclusive to white girls with blonde hair?
In recent years, we’ve seen several new Barbies from badass misfits shaking the game up: in 2016, there was the Misty Copeland Barbie honoring the ballet dancer who helped reshape ballet for countless black girls. Mattel also had a Barbie of plus-size fashion model Ashley Graham which had belly fat, round arms, and touching thighs.
There was also the Ava DuVernay Barbie in 2015, based on the director of the Academy Award-nominated film “Selma,” and radical female director in Hollywood today. And even as soon as this year, we had a Wonder Woman Barbie after the critically-acclaimed movie and actress Gal Gadot.
The latest Barbie, which premiered to many yesterday, is from the Shero line and based on American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad just last year became the first American to compete and win a medal in the Olympics wearing the hijab.
Of course, like many of the others, there were a few requests for the making of this particular Barbie who was going to undeniably serve a very special place. Muhammad made a few initial requests, including that the doll have big, strong legs, and that she wear dark eyeliner and the hijab. Yes, this is the first Hijab-wearing Barbie. And yes, Muhammad showed the design team how to tie the hijab.
“Today, I’m proud to know that little girls who wear a hijab and, just as powerfully, those who don’t, can play with Barbie in a headscarf,” says Muhammad. “I know that the more diverse dolls are offered, the many more inspiring stories girls will be able to tell.”
To think that even in today’s climate, where Islamophobia, women’s rights, and marginalized groups are all having a moment where we’re in this cluster of “WHAT ARE WE DOING?!”, it is beautiful to see women show up and reclaim the power from within. I am rooting for everyone who has a voice, a purpose, and a dream. Now, whose going to buy me this doll?