While toymaker Mattel tries to convince girls that Barbie dolls can be just like them, one customer out there has already madeover Barbie in her image.
Haneefah Adam, a 24-year-old from Ilorin, Nigeria, has created a stylish Barbie doll who just happens to wear the hijab, or Muslim veil. And while the Instagram account for Mattel’s doll “Barbie Style” might have bangs, wear glitzy tops and hang out with Zoolander dolls, Adam’s “Hijarbie” rocks tailor-made clothes and a ton of sophistication on the same platform.
“I’d never seen a Barbie with a hijab before,” Adam told Quartz, explaining that she wanted to dress the iconic plastic doll in a way that represented her own style. The pharmacology student designed and stitched Hijarbie’s new clothes herself.
Hijarbie’s account now has nearly 40,000 followers. Adams says that she never expected to get so much attention, but adds that it’s a welcome opportunity to “get people to understand [Islam].”
Adam’s Barbie is part of a larger movement in the Muslim world. From Nazma Khan, founder of World Hijab Day, to the women who adopt the hijab as a sign of empowerment or as a political statement, many seek to show that dressing conservatively isn’t necessarily an imposition.
Instagram style accounts such as Hijab Fashion have hundreds of thousands of followers. In 2015, Dolce & Gabbana launched a high-end hijab and abaya collection.
Adam has been blogging about lifestyle and fashion and posting pictures on a personal Instagram account for over two years. “I wasn’t forced to wear a hijab,” Adam told Quartz, “I chose to wear a hijab.” She points out that dressing modestly is a choice rather than an obligation in most Islamic cultures. Adam is now working to launch her own line of modest fashion.