Mattel’s Burqa Barbie Controversy

Barbie is involved in another controversy, i.e. Burqa Barbie. It seems that Mattel has offended some Islamic women, and they’re demanding that Mattel take note. Mattel has produced 500 Barbies in a Burqa for auction in Italy. The auction is part of Barbie’s 50th anniversary. Proceeds will go to the Rewrite the Future, a charity, which helps millions of children around the world effected by conflict.

A representative from Mattel has stated, “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”.

Muslim women are offended because the Burqa is not a true representation of Islamic dress, so where is Mattel coming from? Islamic women are fighting to not have to wear a Burqa. The Burqa is believed by Muslim women to be a garment forced on them during the Taliban, it is not mentioned in the Quran; therefore, it should not be seen as a part of their traditional dress. The Quran is our Bible. They see the Burqa as a means to oppress women. Muslim women are required to wear Hijabs, a scarf, to cover their heads and to dress modestly only. The Burqa is worn over a woman’s normal dress when she is outside the home in some Islamic countries. It is made to cover them from head to toe. Because of political instability, it was seen as a way of protecting women so they were forced to wear them.

I normally don’t post on religious or cultural issues, but I believe this concern was important enough to bring to light. Especially since it involved a toy maker. I am somewhat knowledgeable of Islam and I am aware that Islamic women are fighting for rights as women. Rights that we take for granted in this country. Muslim women believe that Mattel should have taken the time to understand the Islamic culture and what it represents before they produced a doll that supposedly represents traditional Islamic dress. Especially, a Barbie doll that little girls will be playing with. Burqas are currently the center of a big controversy in Western Europe. They are being banned because they are not a part of the traditional Islamic dress.I posted on the Burqa Barbie because so many problems are created simply because statements and opinions are formed without having all the facts. What’s funny is Mattel’s Barbie has been banned in most Islamic countries. They see her as being too westernized for their little girls. She has been replaced with the Fulla doll (shown above). This doll is more culturally correct as far as Islamic dress than the Burqa Barbie produced by Mattel.

I patronize Mattel and I will continue; however, a little research will go a long way when it comes to cultural and religious issues. Do you think Mattel should have done their homework before they produced a culturally incorrect Barbie? Do you think the focus was on money rather than the fight of Islamic women for their rights? Would love to hear your thoughts on the Burqa Barbie.



  1. and one other thing before i go 🙂 only countries that have people of uneducated minds will force a woman to do anything without her wanting to, force happens in the uk/usa as well as islamic countries, a man may very well want his wife to never wear a dress or jeans etc yet its more talked about when its a burka, not all women are forced, islam isnt bad, people the end of the day so long as barbie looks modest hijab or not my child if i had one could play with it, children are impressionable lil things so id rather a modest barbi than mini skirt barbi. such a shame that yet again islam is under scrutiny, all this was caused by the company and yet islam is the talk of the day, such a shame we all just cant get along really, i wuldnt get upset about burka barbi, i guess the women that do must be oppressed or just upset in general as islam always gets digged at so it wuld seem this was just another dig. i still think burka barbi was a great idea, i think an even better idea would b global barbi/continental barbi…a barbi from every religion, keep everone quiet that way!!!

  2. i am a muslim revert of 6yrs now so i can see the points that are made by muslims and non muslims alike. i never used to wear hijab i do now, i have chosen to do my research and as far as im concerned women and men are to cover there private parts with loose clothing (inc head/hair for women) if the barbie had a head scarf and jilbab/abaya (traditional islamic dress) then i think that would have been ok, i have worn the burka i have tried it all when it comes to being modest clothed and i am happy with just the hijabi look as it is allah swt command, now as far as burka barbie is concerned im sorry but i dont see a problem yes research should have been done as its wrong to presume we all wear burka however there are many women(inc friends of mine)that wear it because THEY CHOSE to. this subject will always rub someone up the wrong way. if this has given children an insight in another lifestyle/religion then wonderful if its upset people im sorry to hear that. but we must forgive the maker of burka barbie, everyone makes mistakes.

  3. yogi afrianto says:

    nice post

  4. Interesting-who knew!

  5. How odd.  I am surprised Mattel didn't think this would cause a controversy.

  6. Thanks for this posting.  Its very informative and help me to understand more about the women who wear this garb.  I always thought they wore it for religious reasons and didn't know it was forced upon them.  As for Mattel…its always about the money honey.  If it was about us women they would have designed a much more realistic Barbie from the get go.  Between Barbie and Hollywood its a wonder that our little girls can develop a positive self image by the time they hit their teens.

  7. I am sick of Western culture having to worry about "offending" Muslim culture. How are Christians and Jews treated in their countries? Can someone wear a cross or a crucifix there? Can someone read a Bible or convert to Christianity without worrying about being killed?  I've been in Singapore and seen women in full Burqua as well as other Islamic dress in 100 degree weather. It is not law there and the women still choose to wear them. My son and his girlfriend have lived throughout Southeast Asia as well as the Middle East and said these women willingly dress that way. American women would not tolerate such nonsense. Mattel was right but why they bothered to cater to them and even is beyond me.

  8. Wow…I am always on computer these days and had no idea of this controversy. It is so important, because toys mold children SO much when so young.
    I agree Toni…BARBIE needs some cheesecake!!

  9. Good post, thanks for the education as well as keeping me up to date in the toy world.

    I definitly agree that Barbie should change her dress as well as put on a few pounds.  🙂

  10. amazing!  I had no idea this happened!  I can see where the Islamic women are coming from.  Didn't they do their research first?  Strange – what a horrible mistake!!