Meet Hijarbie, Barbie’s Hijab-wearing Muslim cousin. The doll is the brain child of 24-year-old Nigerian Haneefah Adam, who says that the doll is meant to make a fashion statement and also change the way young Muslim girls see themselves.
We are used to seeing Barbie skinny and scantily-clad in denim hotpants and skimpy tops, but Hijarbie is far more covered up.
She is modestly dressed with colourful fashionable hijabs, maxi skirts, maxi gowns, fully covered blouses and abayas or traditional gowns.
Haneefah, who holds a masters degree in Pharmacology from Coventry University in the UK, said the idea for Hijarbie came to her after going through a popular Barbie Style site on social media where she noticed all the dolls where dressed in skimpy or tight fitting outfits – a style most Muslim girls are unable to identify with.
I decided to put the Hijab on the doll because I have never really seen one like it before until recently. She is dressed in the contemporary Muslim fashionista way.
She says Hijarbie shows young Muslim girls that they can be fashionable and stylish without losing their identity.
“I decided to put the Hijab on the doll because I have never really seen one like it before until recently. She is dressed in the contemporary Muslim fashionista way,” she said.
The dolls’ bodies are imported from China.
“I think it is important for a doll that reflects certain cultures in Nigeria. It helps with an impressionable young girl that can identify with a hijab wearing doll and would be able to identify with her roots. She has like a sense of identity with the doll, because the doll will be dressed up like how she would normally dress up maybe when she is older,” she said.
What started out as a hobby is now turning out to be a profitable business for Haneefah. Hijarbie’s instagram page has 63,400 followers. The doll has sold 200 pieces since February through a distributor in the UK from where it is dispatched to other parts of the world and sold for 25 pounds.
Hijarbie is part of a growing global movement trying to show the Hijab and other modest Islamic dresses as symbols of empowerment for women and not oppression.
“It’s cute and it’s unique and it portrays Islam properly and most dolls I know they are not usually well dressed and properly dressed like the Hijarbie, so I find it to be very nice and something that anybody would love to have,” Rasheeda Hassan, a student.
Haneefah says Nigeria is a great source of inspiration for the looks she creates. A trip to the fabric market always brings new ideas.
Haneefa says that for now her Pharmacology degree will be gathering dust in the shelves, partly because of few opportunities in the field, but mostly because she has found new passion in Hijarbie.