Not only Barbie: Hijarbi wants to celebrate Muslim fashion and culture

After six years of silence, Hijarbie’s Instagram profile has a new image of a doll in a caramel pink dress and hijab posing in front of a similar wall.

The inscription read: “#Hijarbi is back“, to the delight of users who expressed their joy at the return of the doll in their comments.

barbie hijarbi muslim fashion
The Nigerian artist announced the return of her creation after six years by posting “This #Hijarbie is back” on Instagram.

Hijarbi artist

Hanifa Adam, 32, the Nigerian artist behind @hijarbie, has started imagining dolls in muslim clothes in 2015 after noticing the absence of more modest (the hashtag used for his creations is actually #modestfashion) or hijab-wearing models on social media that he followed.

Despite showing an early talent for the visual arts at school, Adam never considered a career in the arts. He wanted to be a doctor, but ended up learning physiologyto then achieve masters of pharmacology and pharmaceutical research in the UK.

However, back in Nigeria, she rediscovered her passion and started sharing her creations online. The self-taught girl, who also blogs about fashion, religion and food, often scrolls through Instagram for inspiration but says: “I didn’t see doll that looks like me“.

barbie hijarbi muslim fashion
Hanifa Adam with one of his Hijars

So he decided create it yourself: She started sewing a blue maxi skirt, a blue blouse and a black hijab, posting a photo of her doll in full outfit in December 2015.

Positive feedback, including requests to buy these “dresses” for her own daughters or granddaughters, and sincere envy of this outfit – “when the doll has a better style than me” – pushed her to create other models.

Over the next few months, she developed a look based on the cornflower blue abaya (robe-like dress) worn by British fashion and lifestyle influencer Habiba da Silva, who immediately recognized enjoyed great success online, even made it to Teen Vogue.

Seven years later, Adam has uploaded over 200 photos to her Instagram profile, where she is followed by over 60,000 followers. She designed about 70 dresses inspired by Muslim culture and fashion, including a series of dolls based on prominent female figures of the Islamic faith.

For example, Deedra Abboud, whom she places next to a doll representing her, is a lawyer who is a Democratic candidate for the US Senate.

“She is an advocate for the rights of women and minorities. Born a Christian, she tried to convert Muslims, began to study Islam more in order to better argue her thesis, but ended up converting at the age of 20.”

Inspiration from the movie “Barbie”

Last month, inspired by the hype caused by barbie movie and following her feminist message, she returned to posting on Hijarbi’s profile after taking a break to focus on her family.

“Barbie has created a new phenomenon by celebrating femininity, independence and female power“, – he said. The reaction was extremely positive.

“Some people wrote something like “take off the hijab,” he adds, “but those were a minority. Even non-Muslims appreciated the importance of talking about performance“.

barbie hijarbi muslim fashion
U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad in the 2016 Hijarbie and behind him in the Mattel 2017 Barbie version (Instagram)

Since starting her website, Hanifa Adam has witnessed a rise in the number of women wearing the hijab in the media, show business and entertainment.

In 2017, for example, Mattel released the first doll barbie in hijabbased on American Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, a year after the talented artist created her version of the athlete.

She was also thrilled to see Barbie in the 2023 film, played by a doctor. Fatumina Said Abukar.

Celebration of Muslim culture

Adam’s artwork is inspired by the experience she had while studying the Quran and listening to it read by Arab scholars while growing up in Ilorin, a university town in western Nigeria.

Now living in Lagos, in addition to working on “modest fashion” for dolls, she runs her own clothing line and creates works culinary art based on typical local dishes. She describes her work as a celebration of her culture and identity.

barbie hijarbi muslim fashion
All of Adam’s creations are “modest” handmade clothes that best represent Muslim culture and identity (Instagram)

The 32-year-old woman is now determined to expand her work on the hijarbi and aims to present more models regular Muslims. A website will be launched this month for sell your “modest clothes” handmade for dolls.

“I’m not a business woman,” she says, “but my friends supported me. They all wanted outfits for their little girls.” If the mini dresses are successful, the woman also hopes to create real, coordinated dresses to allow Muslim girls to dress to match their dolls.

“Different Barbies to Celebrate Us All”

“My Barbies are different,” he concludes. I have Asian, white and black hijab dolls. True, the Barbie brand also creates models in the likeness of celebrities and powerful women. (That’s because) the doll exists for celebrate us all“.

After all, among the latest novelties in the Barbie house there is a version of “Strange“, which was played in the film by Greta Gervin from Kate McKinnon, tamong the characters supporting the protagonist, played by Margot Robbie. An iconic character that will soon become a reality thanks to Mattel Creations.

barbie hijarbi muslim fashion
Mattel Creations Announces Commercial Launch of Crazy Barbie (Instagram)

Short hair, colorful “make-up” on the face, crooked legs and chaotically matched clothes: how many of you who played with this iconic doll did not have one?

But now, instead of recreating it, it will be available for purchase in the theatrical version. It can be pre-ordered on the website until August 18: each piece will come to order and will be shipped by May 31, 2024.

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