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Saturday, 14 May 2016
Interview With Hijarbie Creator Haneefah Adam
Below is author Umm Zakiyyah's interview with Haneefah Adam, creator of Hijarbie.
Please tell us a little about yourself: your ethnicity and nationality, family background, where you grew up, and where you live now.
My name is Haneefah Adam, I'm a Nigerian. I am a Masters degree holder in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery from Coventry University, UK. I come from a Muslim family of 6. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria but grew up in Ilorin. I currently live in Ilorin, Nigeria now.
What were your hobbies as a child? Did you play with the traditional Barbie? In your view, how important is it for children to see themselves reflected in books, toys, and television/movies? Please explain.
As a child, I usually scribbled more. I was also into reading (with lots of pictures), drawing, painting and sculpture. And I had parents who recognised and acknowledged that talent and were quiet supportive. I actually did not play with Barbie. It is important to provide a sense of normalcy for children while they grow up, in their inquisitive years, they might wonder why they don't look like some certain people, they need to understand why they look or dress different than others and appreciate diversity while still identifying and acknowledging their own roots.
Instagram screenshot @hijarbie
When did the idea of Hijarbie first come about? What was the inspiration behind it? Is creating a “Muslim Barbie” something that you dreamed of since childhood? Or is this something that developed over time? Please explain.
The idea occurred to me when I realised that I haven't really seen a barbie doll dressed up in hijab before. I was still studying then and I decided to think and pray about it for a while before deciding to start documenting my own hijabi dressed up doll. I never really dreamed about it since childhood or developed it over time because I was a different kind of artist. I started developing interest for sewing when I was 13 and only made paper dresses before then.
How has hijab shaped your own life? How did your experience with hijab shape your visions for Hijarbie? What role did your own faith play in creating a Barbie that Muslim girls can relate to?
I grew up wearing the hijab and have been since I was a little girl, I understood it was part of my faith and keeps me in check most of the time while also providing a unique Identity for me. With hijarbie, I'm trying to create a personality for her on the social media pages in her outfits, where she would hopefully inspire her followers positively. Because my faith is an integral part of my lifestyle, it has to reflect in most things I do, which in turn is manifesting in Hijarbie. In so doing, choosing to cover up is an integral part of faith and it being reflected in toys will provide a sense of belonging.
For Hijarbie, how did you come up with the styles of clothing? Are you a fashion designer? If so, please tell us a little more about your work in fashion and clothes design.
I'm a self taught designer, I love making dresses and started showing interest in them over 10 years ago. Hijarbie's outfit are inspired by normal everyday looks of a Muslim girl which are all hand made by me. A lot of themes will crop up in the nearest future in sha Allah. I currently own and run a modest lifestyle brand, Hanie, where we will be selling modest outfits, accessories and expand to home accessories as well.
Instagram screenshot @hijarbie
What have been the greatest challenges in creating Hijarbie? How did you overcome them? In your view, what challenges remain?
I didn't have access to premium dolls to work with when I wanted to create her and couldn't find more diversified skin tones. Islam cuts across different races and it would be reflected on the page. That problem is being currently worked on. I think my location is a big issue, because I can't readily purchase accessories or other vital items online.
Your Twitter profile mentions that you are a blogger and medical scientist. Can you tell us a little more about your blogging and medical science background? Do you see the creation of Hijarbie as related to your love for blogging and medical science? If so, how?
I blog at muslimahanie.com and it was an outlet I created during my gap year after my first degree. My works documented there reflect my various interests in food, fashion, faith and arts and crafts. I'm also academically trained as a medical scientist having studied Physiology and then Pharmacology and Drug discovery. As a person, I love to create and especially read which is closely related to research, so I think everything I do and love are a reflection of that.
In your view, is Hijarbie for non-Muslim children too? Do you believe dolls like Hijarbie can help non-Muslim children (and adults) relate better to Muslims? Do you believe dolls like Hijarbie can help build religious understanding worldwide and counter Islamophobia? If so, how? If not, why not?
I feel hijarbie is for everyone that is willing to accept other people's unique identity. It is about understanding muslims and seeing us for what we truly are and not what a lot of wrong misconceptions are breeding. Islam does not support terrorism or most form of negativity but always encourages good character ultimately. I hope by continuing to run the page, hijarbie might be able to correct a few misconceptions while also being 'herself'.
How have people's reactions been to Hijarbie? Do you find them to be overwhelmingly positive? How so?
There has been a lot of positive feedback to hijarbie. Its a hit with a lot of parents who wants it for their kids and older people who wish they had an hijab wearing one while growing up.
How and where can we learn more about your work, and where can we buy Hijarbie (or Hijarbie clothing for Barbie dolls)? Is the doll available worldwide?
There is a website we are currently working on which will go up soon, in sha Allah, but the bulk of the updates will be in the instagram page. The doll will be available for shipping worldwide once we start selling in sha Allah. And we hope to bring in stockists along the way as well.