There are few children’s toys which are as recognizable as Barbie. Launched in 1959, the doll has been a toy of choice for children around the world, and its maker Mattel has claimed that three Barbies are sold every second.
The first incarnation of Barbie portrayed her as an impossibly beautiful stick-thin white woman, and this was how the majority of Barbies remained until the doll came under fire for creating unrealistic body expectations.
As a result of public criticizm, Barbie has had a number of different incarnations over the past few decades to make her more inclusive, and Barbies have been created with varying body proportions and made racially diverse.
However, until now, Barbie has not been portrayed as being religiously diverse.
This is why the doll was banned in the Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia in 2003. She did not conform to Islamic ideals, and her “revealing clothes and shameful postures” were described as “a symbol of decadence to the perverted West.”
In a bid to appeal to children of all backgrounds, Mattel has created a hijab-wearing Barbie. The doll was launched on Monday of this week and was created in honor of American fencer and Olympic bronze medalist, Ibtihaj Muhammad.
The athlete reportedly cried when she discovered that a Barbie doll was going to be modelled on her.
Ibtihaj made history at the Rio Olympics last year by becoming the first athlete to represent the United States wearing a hijab.