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Olympian from NJ is inspiration for Hijab-wearing Barbie

MAPLEWOOD — Starting next year, a doll will hit store shelves bearing the likeness of not only a New Jersey native, but also an Olympian and a woman breaking new ground for people of her faith.

Mattel recently announced that they will be making a new Barbie doll that will wear a hijab in honor of Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. As a member of the fencing team at the Olympics last year, the Maplewood native became the first Muslim woman to bring home a medal in the team sabre event in Rio.

The doll is part of the Barbie Shero program, which the company describes on its website as “female heroes who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.”

On her Facebook page, Muhammad called the doll a “dream come true.”

“The Barbie Shero Program recognizes women who break boundaries to inspire the next generation of girls and I am so excited to join this incredible group of women,” she said. “I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab!”

In addition to wearing a hijab during her competitions Muhammad has also developed a clothing line called Louella.

“With an extraordinary passion for fashion, Ibtihaj and the Louella team bring modest, fashion forward clothing to the world via online business,” the company says on its website.

The line includes dresses, jumpsuits, and other clothing items with many of the models pictured wearing various head covers including hijabs.

Other women included in the Barbie Sheroes collection include fellow Olympian Gabby Douglas, actress Ava Duvernay, dancer Misty Copeland, and plus-sized model Ashley Graham.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or

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