Why the first-ever hijab-wearing Barbie should inspire you

Life is no longer as you know it. Upsetting status quo and changing norms are a daily trend in this age and the fashion and beauty space are getting hit by more than a fair share of this wind of change.

Raise your hand if you grew up playing with a doll. Raise both hands if your doll was light-skinned, blonde, silky, straight hair, had an impressive thin waist and wore pink blush. In this part of the world, it was hard to relate!

But 2016 was the turnaround year for dolls across the world. Mattel, producers of the world’s most famous doll, Barbie finally gave in to the cries for inclusion. For the longest number of years, Barbie did not reflect the diverse skin and body types of the young girls in its target market.

Mattel released a new range of Barbie dolls “that is reflective of the world girls see around them”, according to the company’s senior vice-president, Evelyn Mazzocco.  It included a wider range of hairstyles, eye colours, skin tones, body types and heights.

And that was just the beginning of the win for representation.

At Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards on Monday, Olympic fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad who made history in 2016 for being the first American to compete in a hijab at the Olympics, was honored with her own miniature Barbie doll.

Not a big deal, right?

Well, the big deal is that her Barbie was wearing its own hijab. And that’s the first hijab-wearing Barbie doll the world has ever seen.

Mattel made a special edition Barbie after Muhammad and it came complete in her fencing uniform and hijab, as part of its Shero collection of dolls modelled after inspirational women. In 2016, the doll company made a Barbie of plus-size model, Ashley Graham and it featured touching thighs and belly fat, according to Graham’s specifications.

For inclusivity and representation in beauty, it was another victory. For Muhammad, it was nothing short of a dream come true. She recounted how she grew up playing with Barbie and would sew hijabs for her dolls. Muhammad told Billboard, “I played with Barbies for such a long time and I just remember imagining myself in these different roles as a kid through playing with dolls.”

On how much her Barbie matches her, she said, “the likeness is uncanny, even the fencing kit itself. The mask is amazing, the sneakers. It’s very cool and very lifelike.”

So think about it like this. You are not too far off from getting your own Barbie, just keep at that amazing thing you do. What you look like will no longer be a barrier.


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