Burka Sold Separately

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Burka Sold Separately

Move over Barbie. There's a new doll on the scene -- a young woman with
equally anorexic proportions, but the similarities end there:
In the last year or so, Barbie dolls have all but disappeared from the shelves of many toy stores in the Middle East. In their place, there is Fulla, a dark-eyed doll with, as her creator puts it, "Muslim values."

Fulla roughly shares Barbie's size and proportions, but steps out of her shiny pink box wearing a black abaya and matching head scarf. She is named after a type of jasmine that grows in the Levant ... she has quickly become a best seller all over the region.

Young girls here are obsessed with Fulla, and conservative parents who would not dream of buying Barbies for their daughters seem happy to pay for a modest doll who has her own tiny prayer rug, in pink felt. Children who want to dress like their dolls can buy a matching, girl-size prayer rug and cotton scarf set, all in pink.

Fulla is not the first doll to wear the hijab, a traditional Islamic head covering worn outside the house so a woman's hair cannot be seen by men outside her family. Mattel markets a group of collectors' dolls that include a Moroccan Barbie and a doll called Leila, intended to represent a Muslim slave girl in an Ottoman court.
Something tells me that Mattel executives might be a little nervous at getting this publicity for a doll that represents "a Muslim slave girl" -- not terribly PC in this post-Taliban era.
Fawaz Abidin, the Fulla brand manager for NewBoy, said that was because NewBoy understood the Arab market in a way that its competitors had not.

"This isn't just about putting the hijab on a Barbie doll," Mr. Abidin said. "You have to create a character that parents and children will want to relate to. Our advertising is full of positive messages about Fulla's character. She's honest, loving, and caring, and she respects her father and mother."
Honest, loving and caring? Those traits don't get you ahead in today's world. What foolish dollmakers.
In Damascus, a Fulla doll sells for about $16, in a country where average per capita income hovers around $100 per month.

0 comments in Burka Sold Separately

Post a Comment

Burka Sold Separately | Demagogue Copyright © 2010