Representation and inclusivity matter. Playing with dolls, particularly Barbie, is a large part of childhood for many, but the doll and its clothing haven’t been very representative of all people. Barbie has made some strides recently by introducing dolls with different body shapes, different skin tones, and even dolls with disabilities. One Muslim woman from Nigeria saw there was still no representation for young Muslim girls and set out to fix the problem.
Haneefa Adam, a 24-year-old Nigerian scientist, was inspired to start the Hijarbie Instagram page when she saw the Barbie Style Instagram page. Not seeing any dolls that looked like her, she decided to do something about it. “I thought it was really important for a doll to be dressed like how I would be,” Haneefa said. She started making her own doll clothes and ordering dolls from overseas with different skin tones. She then posted her Hijarbie pictures and the account quickly gained attention.
Haneefa describes Hijarbie as a modest doll, a relatable role model for Muslim girls. Haneefa looks to Muslim fashion bloggers for inspiration for her doll outfits, and the pictures show a wide range of beautiful and colorful styles.
Most of the Hijarbie images are just of the dolls. Some of the most striking pictures, however, are side-by-side shots with a real Muslim woman and a matching doll. Haneefa writes a caption telling the woman’s unique story, all of which are inspiring to young girls. Some of the women who’ve received the Hijarbie treatment are Samah Safi Bayazid (an award-winning filmmaker), Ilhan Omar (first Somali-American lawmaker in the US), Ibtihaj Muhammad (first US Muslim Olympian), and Kariman Abduljadayel (first Saudi Arabian woman sprinter to compete for her country in the Olympics). These profiles show young Muslim girls that there are unlimited possibilities for their futures.
Haneefa herself has an inspiring story. She temporarily left Nigeria to study and earn a Masters in Pharmacology in the UK. In addition to being a medical scientist and the talent behind Hijarbie, she is a visual artist and an active lifestyle blogger. Her blog, Muslimahanie, shares posts on style, food, faith, DIY projects, arts and crafts, health and beauty, and more.
Hijarbie has nearly 80,000 followers and has gotten a lot of praise from all around the world. Haneefa says there has been some negative feedback about the concept of wearing a scarf but says she is using Hijarbie as a way to “correct some misconceptions” about Islam. Hijarbie dolls and clothing will soon available for purchase in the US and UK.
Haneefa saw a gap and took the initiative to fill it. “I want to inspire the Muslim girl,” she said. She’s inspired us all!