Image is important, and recently we've seen many brands making a conscious effort to diversify their imagery for an ever changing consumer base. From mixed couples in TV commercials to Priests and Imams sharing a laugh, diversity has strengthened its appeal in media and brand strategy.
Yesterday one of the biggest names in toys gave us another example of their commitment to diversity when Mattel introduced a new hijab wearing Barbie doll, inspired by Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
We are so excited to honor @IbtihajMuhammad with a one-of-a-kind #Barbie doll! Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries. #Shero #YouCanBeAnything #GlamourWOTY
Ibtihaj has become an inspiration to many when she became the first athlete to wear a hijab as an Olympian from the U.S. and became the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal, bringing home the bronze in team saber in the 2016 Olympics.
“Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries,” the Barbie makers said.
The new Barbie was introduced at the Glamour Women of the Year event in New York where Muhammad expressed her gratitude and emotions over the honor.
“I had so many moments as an athlete, where I didn’t feel included, where I was often in spaces where there was a lack of representation,” said the 31 year old NJ native. “So to be in this moment, as a U.S. Olympian, to have Mattel, such a global brand, diversify their toy line to include a Barbie doll that wears a hijab is very moving to me.”
Ibtihaj described the taunting and body shaming she faced as an athlete and how the doll captured the things which make her so different and so special.
“There was so much about the doll that was important to me,” Muhammad added. “I know as a kid I was bullied for having larger legs, and sport taught me to embrace my body and to love my body and the strength that it could produce.
“I think that having strong legs helped me win a medal at the Olympic Games, so I wanted my legs to be larger, more athletic legs, toned legs. And I am very into eyeliner, so I wanted a strong-winged cat eye. And Mattel listened to everything, everything even down to the fabric of the hijab.”
The doll was introduced as the latest addition to Mattel's "Sheroes" line, which also features women such as Ava DuVernay, Gabby Douglas and Misty Copeland.