Muslim makeover for Barbie with ‘Hijarbie’

A Nigerian woman, who wanted to see Barbie dressed the way she did, has given the popular doll arguably its most surprising makeover yet — all covered up and wearing a ‘hijab’.

The ‘Hijarbie’, created by 24-year-old Haneefah Adam, will be initially available in the US and will be sold in the UK from mid March at major toy retailers for 9.99 pounds each. Adam said a look at the hugely popular Barbie Style on Instagram “got me thinking about how I’d actually like to see a doll dressed up — covered up the way I am.’’

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“I was mulling about the idea for about three months while I was still studying for my master’s degree in the UK. When I got back to Nigeria, I went to the mall, purchased a doll, dressed it up, documented it and here we are,” she told Style.Mic. Adam, who currently owns and runs a lifestyle brand called Hanie, posted the concept about her ‘Hijarbies’ on an Instagram account which already has over 17,000 followers.

“When will purchase be possible: As soon as possible, we are in the process of building a website and working towards production and making hijarbie available for purchase soon,” Adam said in an Instagram post along with a photograph of herself that shows her wearing a ‘hijab’. Complete with a tiny hijab on her plastic head, the miniature fashionista could not be further away from the blonde doll that has brandished the bedrooms of millions of youngsters for almost 60 years. Adam’s creation comes just days after toy maker Mattel introduced a more realistic range of Barbie dolls in the biggest shake-up in the 57 year history of the model.

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Besides including four body types — the original rail-thin Barbie, a taller Barbie, one with more curves and a petite version, the new line has seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and a number of hair styles. Some of the models are black, though there have been black Barbies since 1980.

Evelyn Mazzocco, global general manager for Barbie, had said following the January launch of the new body types: “We are excited at the prospect of literally changing the face of the brand. These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them. The variety in body type, skin tones and style also allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”

But skin color is only the beginning of the online criticism Hijarbie is generating on Twitter. Says one Mathew Johnson: ‘‘Ridiculous. The hijab is a sign of oppression. What next, Ken has 4 Barbie wives?!’’ Another person posted, ‘‘Barbie would never wear a hijab…but since she’s been corrupted, will Ken have on a suicide vest?’’