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Hijab-wearing Barbie doll introduced in honor of Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad

15 November 2017

"Through playing with Barbie, I was able to imagine and dream about who I could become", said Ibtihaj Muhammad.

The first United States woman to compete at the Olympics in a hijab, Muhammad won bronze at last year's games in Rio.

The hijab - one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture - is becoming increasingly popular with Western businesses, from hijab-wearing models in top fashion magazines to Apple's recently launched emoji character in a hijab.

A Barbie doll based on Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will be the first of the toy line to wear a hijab, according to USA Today. "So 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".

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"I'm excited to just partner with a brand that I know honors powerful women who are breaking barriers and whose sole goal is to impact the future leaders of tomorrow", Muhammad tells PeopleStyle.

Other athletes with their own Barbie dolls include Gold medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Abby Wambach and ballerina Misty Copeland, all part of the Shero line of dolls.

The doll will be available to purchase in 2018.

"My mom made efforts when I was a kid to bring dolls into the house that were only dolls of color", she said. The doll looks like a copy of the woman athlete: the new Barbie doll wears a fencer's suit and has a fit figure.

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"She's a Barbie who is strong enough to wield a giant sabre and dedicated enough to spend years working her way to an Olympic medal".

Muhammad's face lit up when she saw her Barbie replica, identical to her down to the fencing uniform and white hijab. "I come from a pretty small sport that a lot of people had the opportunity to learn about last summer at the Olympic games and now to even have fencers in the conversation", she says.

Muhammad said she hoped the doll would inspire girls to embrace what makes them unique. "I feel like we're just shattering all the little glass ceilings".

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Hijab-wearing Barbie doll introduced in honor of Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad