Mattel recently made a noteworthy change by introducing a variety of Barbie dolls featuring diverse body shapes, skin tones and hair textures. The transformation is leaps and bounds from the classic dolls which have outrageous proportions and slim frames—not representative of most women today. With an ever evolving society, we are always curious to see what’s next from Barbie’s world—maybe a hijab wearing Muslim Barbie?
That’s exactly what Nigerian medical student Haneefa Adam, 24, has done on Instagram with an account dedicated to Hijarbie—Hijab Barbie. Traditional dolls are usually less modestly dressed—short shorts, bikinis, crop tops—clothing considered unsuitable for a traditional Muslim woman. While there’s nothing wrong with clothing that does not cover the entire body, Adams sought to create a doll that Muslim girls could relate to.
In a CNN interview, Adam stated that she wishes to change the misconception that Muslim women are forced to cover themselves. “People think that when Muslim women cover up they are forced to. [The] majority of us are not. We want to cover up and express our religion. But a lot of Muslims don’t cover their hair and it doesn’t make them any less of a Muslim,” she explained.
With an Instagram following of almost 40,000, Hijarbie has proven to have struck a chord among young, Muslim women. While the page has mostly positive feedback, some have commented that dressing a Barbie in a hijab perpetuates the oppression of women. However, although modest, Adam’s 21outfit collection features hijabs and full-length abayas that would make any fashionista look twice. Tunics over skinny pants, full skirts, fishtale skirts—you name it and Adam has used beautiful fabrics, prints and colors to bring runway worthy garments to life and to inspire women who look like her.
While it may be some time before we find Hijarbie on shelves at a toy store near you, you can rest assured this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her. On the heels of Dolce & Gabana’s well-received hijab-inspired collection, should Haneefa Adam decide against medical school, she could easily take the fashion world by storm with an eager demographic of women ready to purchase.
Originally published, here, on Bold.Global, on February 23, 2016.