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Barbie Gets a Cultural Makeover

Over the past year we’ve heard a lot about Barbie’s fiftieth anniversary and now, in honour of the occasion, Italian designer Eliana Lorena has put her in a Burka.


image from


This wardrobe choice is quite shocking considering in 2003, Barbie was outlawed in Saudi Arabia because the toy was considered offensive to Islam.

The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia called the dolls “with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools, a symbol of decadence to the perverted West.”

Mattel, along with the designer, is trying to make this doll more representative of girls across all cultures.

“I know Barbie was something seen as bad before as an image for girls, but in actual fact the message with Barbie for women is you can be whatever you want to be,” Lorena told the Christian Science Monitor.

Angela Ellis, a Barbie fan and avid collector from Britain, was thrilled about the idea.

“Bring it on, Burka Barbie. I think this is a great idea. I think this is really important for girls, wherever they are from, they should have the opportunity to play with a Barbie that they feel represents them,” Ellis told the U.K. Sun.


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That being said, the Barbie has received some negative attention as well.

One such negative review came from President of the National Organization for Women, Marcia Pappas has released this statement:

“As feminists we believe that women must be able to make their own choices and that includes choices about the clothing they wear. But the burka is more than a choice. Women are forced to wear the burka or risk being murdered. Mattel should be ashamed. Making a profit by selling a doll that is clearly wearing a symbol of violence is not acceptable and there should be a public outcry to take this doll off the market.”

The new dolls are set to be part of a Sotheby’s auction in Florence that will benefit the charity Rewrite the Future. Mattel has not yet said if or when the dolls will be available in stores.

-Emily English


Filed under Media News, Religion

Fashionably Covered-Up

In the world’s most populous Muslim country, fashion shows little skin.

Dwi Iskandar for Jakarta Fashion Week '08. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams courtesy of

On November 14, Indonesia will bring its fully-clothed models to the forefront for the third annual Jakarta Fashion Week.

This year’s fashion week includes more than 60 designers who will celebrate traditional Indonesian fabrics and feature collaborative designs by Indian designers, Tarun Tahiliani and Malini Ramani, and Indonesian designers, Priyo Oktaviano and Sebastian Gunawan.

Priyo Oktaviano for Jakarta Fashion Week '08. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams courtesy of

“Two renowned fashion designers from India will use Indonesian fabrics for their designs and two Indonesian designers will do the same using Indian fabrics,” Svida Alisjahbana, the Chief Festival Coordinator, told the Jakarta Post.

While Muslim morals and fashion seem an odd combination to Western mindsets, the clothes are creative and offer something totally different to the regular fashion week fare.

Such as hijabs.

Here the challenge is to create a stylish veil that succeeds in covering the entire head. Designers play with different fabrics, baubles, beads, prints and ruffles, combining traditional and modern techniques.

APPMI for Jakarta Fashion Week '08. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams courtesy of

Stella Rissa, 23, won the CLEO award for best new designer at last year’s fashion week.

“Indonesians will buy Indonesian products if they are already established outside. Here we are ashamed to wear something without a label,” Rissa told the Jakarta Globe.

Hopefully this year’s cultural fusion fashion week will prove otherwise.

-Otiena Ellwand




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