Mattel releases Hijab Barbie

The impact diversity can bring to the toy brand

Mattel's Hijab Barbie
Supplied via Wikipedia

Last week, toy manufacturing company Mattel announced they would be releasing a new Barbie to their line — one that’s inspired by Muslim Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and the first ever to wear a hijab. 

The reasons why this Hijab Barbie is a big deal is fairly obvious — it’s the first one of its kind.

While this is the company’s first release of a hijab-wearing doll, it’s on trend with Barbie expanding their look. This shift has already included a plus-sized Barbie modeled after model Ashley Graham, a Latina Barbie and an African-American Barbie with an afro. 

Like most things in this world, the release of Hijab Barbie has been faced with lots of controversy and backlash, with many saying the doll and the woman it’s modelled after only tell a story of oppression and has no place in the line of Barbie.

This argument isn’t at all uncommon these days — especially with Bill 62 being passed in Quebec.

To sum it up, Bill 62 bans wearing face coverings when using public services. This means if someone is seeking help at a hospital or using public transit, they’re forced to remove their covering. 

The passing of this Bill is a result of the same type of mentality people have when they’re protesting the new Barbie — that having women wear face coverings is taking away their freedom. However, at the end of the day, not allowing someone to wear what they want in the name of their religion is oppression all the same.

Especially in a time where Muslim people continue to be targeted and forced to deal with fear-mongering at their expense in places like the United States, having a Barbie which represents more people in the population can only be beneficial.

Children are future lawmakers, advocates and supporters, so having toys that are more inclusive and diverse is likely to inspire positive change.

If a non-Muslim child sees a doll wearing a head covering in and among the other Barbies, it’s going to help them realize Muslim girls are just like them. It will also stop them from otherizing people who don’t necessarily look the way they do.

Additionally, having a popular toy that looks like you, considering you’re a young Muslim girl, can be extremely empowering.

In an increasingly diverse world, it only makes sense to have different Barbies represent different people. Having Barbies that are representative of different races, body types and cultures is extremely productive to increasing awareness and acceptance of diversity overall.

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