barbie gets a modest muslim makeover

How a 24-year-old Nigerian woman is using Barbies to boost Muslim girls' self-esteem.

by i-D Staff and Laura Vogel
Feb 5 2016, 6:10pm


Barbie, America's favorite doll, is clearly in the zeitgeist these days. From Curvy Barbie appearing on the cover of Time magazine to the fascinatingly fashionable hijab-wearing ladies of the hot Instagram account @hijarbie, the doll is being used to break some serious feminist ground.

The brainchild of 24-year-old Nigerian Haneefah Adam, @hijarbie is a two-month-old Instagram account that shows the "fashion doll" (as toymaker Mattel has long dubbed Barbie) wearing the modest garb that's required of observant Muslim women. However, the looks shown by Adam go way beyond the personality-erasing black burqua many of us associate with the Islamic religion.

Image courtesy @hijarbie

Adam has said, in interviews with Mic and BuzzFeed, that she hand-sews the observant outfits herself. In many cases, she designs looks worn by well-known Muslim fashion bloggers, putting her doll-size creation next to the image of the trend-setter's image. Below is a miniature re-creation of an outfit created by Palestinian-born and Texas-based fashion blogger Leena Asad:

Images courtesy @hijarbie and @withloveleena 

The look below emulates a posting by Habiba Da Sliva, a British-based fashion blogger who posted the below image of herself wearing a tunic with white-piping designs on the sleeves.

Images via @hijarbie and @lifelongpercussion

Adam's Instagram account is about much more than fashion. She has said, "I want girls to be inspired — this is about having an alternative and creating an awareness of having toys that adopts your religion and culture and in your own likeness, which at the end of the day, leads to an improvement in self-esteem."


Text Laura Vogel
Images courtesy @hijarbie, @withloveleena, @lifelongpercussion

haneefah adam