A German art installation showing 100 Barbie dolls with burkas, 2012.
(photo credit: REUTERS/INA FASSBENDER)
The newest Barbie doll made her appearance this week in a look that would be unrecognizable to the original. Jenna, created by a French Muslim mother, is a hijabi Barbie.
In tradition with Muslim customs, Jenna wears an abaya, a modest dress that covers her collarbone and that stretches to her wrists and ankles. She comes with a matching scarf meant to be wrapped around her hair as a hijab. In addition to looking the part of a Muslim, Jenna will play it as well: she has the ability to recite 4 Quran verses.
Already in mass production in Middle Eastern countries, Jenna is the first doll made with young Muslim girls in mind.
However, as can be seen in the above video, Jenna - also the Arabic word for 'heaven' - doesn't look at all like the girls she'll be marketed to. Her skin is relatively pale, and her light-brown hair pin-straight. In the video, a young girl, the target audience for the doll, is seen playing with Jenna, attempting to wrap the hijab around her hair. But, there's too much hair and too little scarf, leaving the doll's long locks uncovered. There is, however, a British company called Shorso that produces modest clothes for Barbie dolls.
Jenna also isn't the first hijabi Barbie. A year ago, when Mattel - the company that owns the brand Barbie - released a new collection of dolls in a variety of skin tones and with body proportions closer to those of an actual human, a Nigerian instagram user decided to adorn her doll with a scarf, thus creating ''Hijarbie.''
Even before then, in 2014, an illustrator took on a project for Marie Claire called ''We are all Barbie girls" that depicted drawings of realistic-looking Barbie dolls - including one with a darker skin tone, a hijab and an abaya.