Trailblazing Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad made history at the 2016 Rio games as the first American woman to compete at the Olympics wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women. The New Jersey native discovered the sport at 12 years old. Her mother thought fencing was a perfect fit for a Muslim girl because their religion requires females to dress modestly. Even though there were obstacles Muhammad won a bronze medal in fencing.
After watching her compete her brother Qareeb, told the Associated Press. “Despite the adversity she’s faced; being a Muslim, being an African American, being a female, she’s still confident in her ability to be successful. She’s my hero.”
In 2016, Time named Muhammad to its list of the 100 Most Influential People, and President Barack Obama chose her to serve on the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Muhammad used her platform to push back against President Donald Trump's anti-Islamic rhetoric. In her memoir, Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream, Muhammad documents death threats against her and the alienation she felt on the U.S. Olympic team.
Through her clothing company, Louella by Ibtihaj, Muhammad offers a fashionable spin on modest women's apparel. Toymaker Mattel noticed she’s a woman who did that and released its first hijab-wearing Barbie in 2018, modeled on Muhammad's likeness.
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