Sports and Bar­bies: hi­jab game chang­ers

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - — Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

LONDON — Doll com­pany Bar­bie has un­veiled its first hi­jab­wear­ing doll to hon­our an Amer­i­can Olympic fencer, as the tra­di­tional Is­lamic head­scarf goes main­stream through cat­walks, mag­a­zine cov­ers and “emoji” smart­phone sym­bols.

Ibtihaj Muham­mad made his­tory in Rio last year as the first U.S. Olympian to rep­re­sent her coun­try wear­ing a hi­jab, af­ter ear­lier win­ning a gold medal in 2014 at the world fenc­ing cham­pi­onships in Rus­sia.

“I’m proud to know that lit­tle girls ev­ery­where can now play with a Bar­bie who chooses to wear hi­jab! This is a child­hood dream come true,” the Olympian posted on Twit­ter.

The hi­jab is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with Western busi­nesses, from hi­jab­wear­ing mod­els in top fash­ion mag­a­zines to Ap­ple’s re­cently launched emoji char­ac­ter.

The hi­jab­wear­ing Bar­bie is part of Bar­bie’s “Shero” line which recog­nises women “who break bound­aries to in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion of girls”, and goes on sale in 2018, the com­pany said. “Ibtihaj is an in­spi­ra­tion to count­less girls who never saw them­selves rep­re­sented,” Bar­bie’s mar­ket­ing vice pres­i­dent Se­jal Shah Miller said in a state­ment.

“By hon­our­ing her story, we hope this doll re­minds them that they can be and do any­thing.”

Other dolls in the col­lec­tion in­clude African­Amer­i­can bal­le­rina Misty Copeland, and Ava DuVer­nay, di­rec­tor of

Selma, a highly­ac­claimed film about the U.S. civil rights move­ment.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muham­mad holds a Bar­bie doll made in her like­ness as she at­tends the 2017 Glam­our Women of the Year Awards at the Kings The­atre in Brook­lyn, New York, on Mon­day.

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