Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mideast Barbie dolls don Islamic veil

Move over Barbie, veiled is beautiful. The physical ideal of Muslim girls increasingly includes the hijab, as evidenced by toy shops' best-selling doll "Fulla" and the string of showbiz stars opting to cover up.

The dark-eyed and olive-skinned Fulla has replaced her American rival's skimpy skirts with more modest "outdoor fashion" and Barbie's luxuriant blonde mane with an Islamic veil.

"Fulla sells better because it is closer to our Arab values: she never reveals a leg or an arm," says Tarek Mohammed, chief salesman at a Toys'R'Us branch in Mohandessin, one of Cairo's more upmarket neighbourhoods.

[…] Fulla is not the first Islamic doll but none of her predecessors have taken the regional market by storm like she has, selling some two million since its creation two years ago by the Emirates-based NewBoy Design Studio.

Saudi Arabia's religious police had then just banned "Barbie the Jewish doll", whose "revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West."

Fulla, named after an Arabic word for a type of jasmine, was initially sold in the Gulf in a similar pink box but in more modest attire, such as the traditional abaya overdress and complete with a little prayer mat.
Read the whole thing here.

Hijab is the Arabic term for dressing modestly. It generally means covering everything except the face and hands, but is sometimes used simply to indicate the practice of wearing the headscarf.

The abaya is the traditional overdress or caftan, traditionally but not necessarily black.

It never occurred to me that Barbie was Jewish; if so, I am pretty surer she is not Orthodox. At the risk of siding with the enemy, I’ve never been a big Barbie fan; she always struck me as the quintessential material girl long before Madonna came along. And I certainly prefer Fullah to Britney Spears.

Maybe she will start a trend. It would certainly be nice to see, say, a Trad Catholic doll. Bridget, perhaps, who comes with a mantilla, a plaid skirt, and a rosary. You could also market her four brothers and two sisters.