Mattel recently announcing their production of new shapes and skin colors to the Barbie collection is nothing new, and is not the first time Barbie has had a makeover.
In fact, Simah Shams, of Dunya Diverse Dolls has been creating modest fashions for Barbie for over six years.
Shams, a Virginia-based designer whose family is originally from Afghanistan, found that by creating modest, Islamic clothes for her 3 year old daughters’ dolls was the perfect opportunity to teach her daughter the importance of modesty.
“Rather than dressing her dolls in inappropriate clothes, I wanted her to have equally beautiful, but modest options. The challenge would be to learn how to create the outfits,” says Shams, whose previous experience only included sewing curtains and pillowcases.
To learn how to sew doll clothes, Shams watched YouTube tutorials, and approached her mother-in-law, who has sewn for years, for help. With her help, Shams gradually created her first modest Barbie outfit, and what started out as a hobby, quickly turned into opening up a shop on etsy, motivated by the feedback from family and friends, who were grateful that Shams provided their own daughters with an alternative to princess dresses and mini skirts.
Shams closely follows the latest trends and uses that inspiration to come up with various Barbie fashions.
“I am glad that Mattel will be producing different body shapes and skin colors for Barbie. This will give children the opportunity to love themselves as they are. The traditional Barbie did not display realistic characteristics.”
Shams is also excited about the recent surge in designer Islamic fashions and hijabs, recently debuted by Dolce & Gabbana. “I love that they have designer hijabs, which makes the hijabi-wearing woman feel a part of the fashion industry, and not an outcast.”
But designing modest Barbie outfits is just the start for Shams, who is planning to design Barbie clothes that have headscarves from different countries, ethnicities and religions, such as Afghan Barbie, Jewish Barbie, Indian Barbie and Orthodox Barbie outfits.
“This is the meaning behind my shop’s name, Dunya Diverse Dolls. Dunya means “world” in Dari. It is originally an Arabic word that was passed to many other languages such as Persian, Pashto, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi, Kurdish, Nepali, and Turkish. It truly represents the world.”
“My hope is that all Muslim girls will have a doll that resembles them and their beliefs. The doll should encourage them to be proud of themselves as a Muslim.”