Haneefah Adam: She’s Giving Barbie a Makeover

January 23 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: No Plastic Smiles

In Toy Story 3, Barbie meets Ken. Sure, he’s good looking, rockin’ six-pack abs and a killer smile, but it’s something else that really catches Barbie’s attention: his closet. From cute cowboy getups to disco-ready outfits, Ken’s got it all. Plus, he ends up being a sweet guy. Ken and Barbie’s shared obsession with their wardrobes aside, they were clearly made for one another. And while Ken’s closet doesn’t exactly cause my heart to flutter, it got me thinking about how important it is to have a real connection with someone. Today, take a few minutes to let those who are important in your life know how you really feel. And you don’t have to be all dolled up when you do!


The Barbie doll hit the shelves in 1959 and for decades, has been adored by girls everywhere. There’s no question, though, that Barbie maker Mattel released some seriously weird and even downright sexist Barbie iterations along the way. For instance, there was Slumber Party Barbie, which came with a diet book, Student Teacher Barbie (because in the 1960s, a woman being an actual teacher was a stretch?) and perhaps the most shocking of them all, Teen Talk Barbie who’s favorite phrase to utter was “Math class is tough!” Seriously? I say Mattel missed a golden opportunity to provide girls with some strong female role models. No wonder I never liked Barbie!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Haneefah Adam, Creator of Hijarbie

One of the most widely discussed criticisms of Barbie is that she provides unrealistic depictions of girls and women. From her pencil-thin waist to minimal skin-tone choices, it’s difficult for many girls to see themselves in Barbie. That’s why I’m so excited to share with you the story of Haneefah Adam, a Nigerian girl who decided to take things into her own hands and create a Barbie doll that is truly a relatable roll model.

Haneefah is the creative mind behind Hijarbie, the world’s first hijab-wearing Barbie doll. We have no doubt Haneefah is also responsible for Mattel’s recent decision to launch a Barbie in the likeness of former On The Dot Woman to Watch and Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad—hijab and all. In fact, Haneefah even dressed her Hijarbie in full Olympic fencing gear a la Ibtihaj during the 2016 Olympics.

Haneefah sews adorable mini hijab fashions and posts photos of her Hijarbie collection on Instagram. She often finds inspiration from real-life women, like the first Saudi Arabian woman sprinter to compete for her country in the Olympics, and the founder of chic company Haute Hijab. It all started because Haneefah wanted to empower Muslim girls by giving them a doll they can identify with, one with similar cultural and religious roots.

With her haute-couture Hijarbie designs, you might think this 24-year-old is a fashion designer in the making. But she’s actually a medical scientist, and has a master’s degree in pharmacology. Yep, she’s clever, talented and incredibly smart, to boot!

With nearly 80,000 Instagram followers, Haneefah is clearly gifted beyond belief. Followers adore her Hijarbie’s full-length dresses, silk blouses, textured and brightly colored hijabs, and athletic wear. We’re hooked too, and can’t get enough of Haneefah’s creativity. We’re certain she’ll continue to inspire girls the world over!


With Haneefah Adam in mind, today’s quote comes from model Halima Aden, the first Muslim Somali-American woman to compete for the title of Miss Minnesota USA. She said:

“Not seeing women that look like you in media…sends the message that you’re not beautiful or you have to change the way you look to be considered beautiful. And that’s not true.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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