In January, the world was blessed with a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie and a petite Barbie. Now, 24-year-old Haneefah Adam is making the case for the hijab Barbie.
Adam, who lives in Nigeria, uses her Instagram account Hijarbie to showcase "mini hijab fashion." That means photo after photo of the Barbie-style doll we know — tall, thin, long-legged, probably blonde — wearing clothes we're less used to: Instead of princess gowns or hot pants, it's all hijabs and abayas.
And she looks damn cute.
Adam got the idea for Hijarbie a few months ago, after taking an earnest look at the hugely popular Barbie Style Instagram. Barbie Style is a separate Instagram account from the regular Barbie one, and it finds Barbie with blogger-worthy style and grown-up Instagram habits (think selfies, artfully messy tablescapes and organized closet porn). The account has over 1.2 million followers.
"It got me thinking about how I'd actually like to see a doll dressed up like I would have — covered up," Adam told Mic. "I was mulling about the idea for about three months while I was still studying for my master's degree in the U.K. When I got back to Nigeria, I went to the mall, purchased a doll, dressed it up, documented it and here we are."
Adam, who is also launching a modest lifestyle brand called Hanie, makes all the dresses and hijabs herself. Lately, she's been designing and sewing looks based off popular Muslim fashion bloggers, like Habiba Da Silva and Leena Asad.
It's a growing group of fashionable influencers. The world of Muslim style online is bustling with young women eager to show off their own outfits and find outfit inspiration, as evidenced by @HijabFashion, which has 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Stores like Uniqlo and H&M are recognizing these shoppers, stocking hijabs and hiring hijabis for ad campaigns.
And, as the entire internet now knows, Dolce & Gabbana recently made waves for announcing a collection of hijabs and abayas of its own for luxury customers. Muslim fashion (as well as modest fashion broadly) is a more powerful industry than ever before, with the Islamic fashion industry expected to be worth $327 billion by 2020.
But the point of Hijarbie is not only to show how beautiful and trendy modest style can be, Adam said. It's also about showing girls who may wear a hijab themselves that they are no less beautiful or special than Barbie herself.
"I want them 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," Adam said.
It's a similar sentiment to the one that finally prompted Mattel to create a more diverse set of dolls to reflect the diverse set of children who would be playing with them, something more and more toy companies are doing. What children see and play with matters, and that's especially true when a doll is hailed as this icon of beauty.
"It's important to create a sense of value in the Muslim child, especially the girl child," Adam said. "They become more confident, more driven, they believe more in themselves, which leads to an appreciation of herself and her modest lifestyle and upbringing. Instead of dressing up her dolls in clothes she wouldn't wear, hijabifying it will create a sense of belonging and hopefully make a positive impact."