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Ibtihaj Muhammad is making history again – as a new role model for young girls.
The 2007 Duke University graduate and fencer became the first Muslim woman to win a national title in 2009, and in 2012, she was named the Muslim Sportswoman of the Year. In 2016, she was the first U.S. athlete to wear the hijab – a headscarf worn by Muslim women – during the Olympic Games.
Although the 31-year-old New Jersey native was eliminated in her second bout in Rio, she brought home a bronze in the team sabre event. She was named one of Time magazine's “100 Most Influential People” in 2016 and also has launched her own modest clothing line Louella.
She has dual bachelor’s degrees from Duke in international relations and African-American studies with a minor in Arabic.
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This week, toymaker Mattel unveiled a new “Barbie Shero” inspired by Muhammad’s achievements at the 2017 Glamour Women of the Year LIVE Summit. The Barbie Shero line reflects the company’s effort to offer more diverse dolls, while recognizing women who break boundaries.
“Barbie is celebrating Ibtihaj not only for her accolades as an Olympian, but for embracing what makes her stand out," said Sejal Shah Miller, Barbie’s vice president of global marketing. “Ibtihaj is an inspiration to countless girls who never saw themselves represented, and by honoring her story, we hope this doll reminds them that they can be and do anything.”
Other prominent women represented by the Shero line, launched in 2015, include Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, director Ava DuVernay, ballerina Misty Copeland and actress Zendaya.
Muhammad’s doll will be available for purchase in 2018. Body activist and model Ashley Graham, who was named last year’s Shero inspiration, presented Muhammad’s doll to her Monday at the New York City summit.
“Through playing with Barbie, I was able to imagine and dream about who I could become,” Muhammad said. “I love that my relationship with Barbie has come full circle, and now I have my own doll wearing a hijab that the next generation of girls can use to play out their own dreams.”