Malala Yousafzai, Internet Queen

The Nobel laureate and education rights activist has long been online to fight for her cause. People are only now realizing she’s also funny, with many more stories to tell.

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Malala Yousafzai wearing custom Ralph Lauren at the 95th Oscars (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Sadaf Ahsan


October 17, 2023


10 min

On July 30, about a week after Barbie hit theaters, Malala Yousafzai took to Instagram to show her love for the blockbuster movie. She posted a photo of herself and her husband Asser Malik standing in a three-dimensional Barbie box: “This Barbie has a Nobel Prize 💖 He’s just Ken.”

The post was funny and confident. Malik even commented, “I’m Kenough 😂.” Countless folks wrote that Malala had “won the internet” with the post — and she did. Today, it has nearly 5,000 comments and 1.2 million likes, making it her most engaged-with post to date.

One might underestimate the significance of one Instagram post in the young Pakistani activist’s life, but the moment reflected her relevance in today’s cultural landscape. Few recent films have had quite as emphatic a feminist rhetoric as Barbie. And this granted Yousafzai the opportunity not only to engage with the zeitgeist, but also to remind the world just how funny she is. That’s probably less surprising than one might think: after all, she rose to fame by using the internet, becoming a symbol of bravery and modern womanhood along the way.

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