Fencing, Fashion and Fearless Dreaming

Hearing “no” over and over is defeating for most. But for Ibtihaj Muhammad, it provided a powerful source of motivation to prove what she’s capable of. At an early age, she faced bigotry and bullying based on her appearance and misconceptions about her religion. Being young, black and wearing a headscarf, or a hijab, Ibtihaj didn’t resemble many kids in school — much less others in the sport of fencing.

Being flexible and persistent in her sport allowed Ibtihaj to build on her talents and shatter the limited view of what an American fencer should look like. But it all started with hard work — and staying true to who she is.

Her advice to those facing similar challenges? “You are enough as you are. You don’t need to be what other people think you should be.”

Ibtihaj approaches life with strength, grace and passion in all that she does, both on and off the court. She inspires us to dream fearlessly — watch to see how she broke through.

Dream Achieved, Dreams Inspired

Ibtihaj Muhammad is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker and Olympic medalist in fencing. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 5-time Senior World medalist and World Champion, in 2016, Ibtihaj became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics in hijab. Ibtihaj was a 3-time All American at Duke University where she graduated with a dual major in International Relations and African Studies. In 2014, she launched her own clothing company, Louella, to bring modest, fashionable and affordable clothing to the United States. In 2018, Mattel produced their first hijabi Barbie, modeled in Ibtihaj’s likeness, as part of Barbie’s “Shero” line of dolls. Ibtihaj also released her debut memoir in 2018, “PROUD: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream.”

Achieving dreams is just the beginning — Ibtihaj is just as fearless when it comes to inspiring others. She serves as a sports ambassador with the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sport Initiative. And she works closely with organizations like Athletes for Impact and the Special Olympics. Named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” Ibtihaj is an important figure in the larger global discussion on equality and the importance of sport, and her voice continues to unite both the sports and non-sports world.

Unexpected Opportunity

Ibtihaj’s large family is incredibly supportive of her fencing career and accomplishments while helping her stay grounded and humble.

Her parents believed in the power of sports to help their kids integrate in the community and strengthen their support networks. Like many Muslim women and girls, Ibtihaj wears the hijab as an expression of modesty and in devotion to her faith — it’s an important part of who she is as a person. But, it doesn’t work well with many sports uniforms, and fitting in with her teammates was a unique challenge. From basketball, to swimming to track and field, she tried them all. Then one day Ibtihaj and her mom drove by a fencing team practice, and they and saw the athletes in full-body uniforms. The opportunity clicked, and Ibtihaj’s fencing dream took shape at age 13.

About Our Brand Ambassadors

When we team up with a brand ambassador, it’s because of who they are and what they do inspire us. They’re living out our belief that everyone deserves support to pursue their dreams.

Learn more about our brand ambassadors.

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Related Topics: Passions , Personal Development