Is it cultural pandering as toy maker Mattel introduces Hijab Barbie?

There are two kinds of girls – those who love dolls and those who don’t. I’m in the latter category. I do, however, remember a Barbie in my childhood. I don’t pay much attention to Barbie news. That changed the other day with an announcement that Mattel is bringing out a Hijab Barbie.

How odd, I thought. Why would a toymaker deliberately insert religion into a product line? So, I followed the money. It turns out that Barbie sales are down. Even the introduction of Barbies with different body shapes didn’t do much for sales. As for diversity, black Barbie was introduced in 1980.

Mattel uses contemporary Barbie to inspire little girls to dream big and think about a career path. There is Career Barbie, Entrepreneur Barbie, even Astronaut Barbie. Yes, there is a President Barbie that has been around since 1992 but in 2016 President Barbie got a makeover and a Vice President Barbie was introduced, too. You get the picture. Girl power.

The political alliance has been a bit sketchy in Barbie world since reporting about a top Mattel executive’s fall from grace after being caught laundering campaign contributions without meeting the proper requirements of transparency. (L.A. Times)

The executive, Fermin Cuza, also made some of the laundered contributions to national Democratic Party committees and leaders at a time when he was being discussed in the trade industry as a possible contender for an appointment by President Clinton to head the U.S. Customs Service.

Cuza dropped out of contention for the federal post after Mattel gave him a promotion. He resigned as senior vice president for Mattel in March 2001 after the company told authorities he had made the laundered political contributions without permission or knowledge of the firm.

In order to try and appear non-partisan in 2016 with the launch of the President and Vice President Barbie, Mattel teamed up with She Should Run. She Should Run works in cooperation with the Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF). Forgive my skepticism that it’s all non-partisan when they only support candidates that “safeguard reproductive health choices for all.”  Pro-life candidates need not apply. Sorry, Republicans.

Does Mattel think pandering to Muslims will boost sales? Or did they use a Muslim Olympian as inspiration for Hijab Barbie because she has voiced anti-Trump sentiments? Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first American Muslim to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

From this article in The Daily Wire:

“Muhammad is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump who not only wrote a long letter to Trump attacking him but has also tweeted her disgust for the President.”

Who knows? Maybe there is a whole untapped market out there for little Muslim girls who want to wear hijabs while competing in sports. I doubt it, though. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Hasidic Jew Barbie or Hindu Barbie.

Karen Townsend is a guest author at Hot Air. You can read her other work at her Pondering Penguin blog. A longtime political blogger and activist, she enjoys writing about life and culture, too.