There’s been a lot of hubbub in the news lately–thanks to the movie based on the Bratz dolls–about the differences between Barbie and Bratz, and how the Bratz dolls are finally unsettling Barbie from her lofty perch in the toy world. (The Mirror reports that Bratz dolls are outselling Barbie 2 to 1.)
As article after article has reported, Bratz are attractive to girls because they are more ethnically diverse, they have attitude, and in an accessorizing deathmatch with Barbie, the Bratz pack might prove the winners both in terms of quantity and fashion. The result of this competition has been a pint-sized arms race of age-inappropriate sexiness. As Abby West puts it so succinctly in The Huffington Post: Bratz dolls “look like little hookers.”
What’s a parent to do? If you’re in the American mainstream, the answer seems to be “not much.” Our children are steeped in consumer culture whether we try to fight it or not, and our girls and young women are objectified at younger and younger ages, no matter what the color of their skin.
If, however, you’re outside the American mainstream–say, in an Islamic tributary of the stream–then you can throw around the weight of, well, God. And if God doesn’t want you to have sexy dolls, Missy, there will be no sexy dolls for you. End of argument.
Fortunately for girls who have outgrown plush dolls and who are hankering for plastic prototype women, some companies have answered their prayers for fun but respectable playthings.
Four years ago, Michigan-based NoorArt introduced Razanne, a modest Muslim version designed to compete with Barbie among Muslim children. Razanne comes in three ethnic variations–dark skin/black hair, olive skin/black hair, and pale skin/blonde hair–and with fashions appropriate for inside the home and outside of it. Variations on her wardrobe include “Eid Mubarak” holiday garb (in pale blue or pink) for Eid, a casual but still modest playday outfit, a Muslim Scout uniform that provides full coverage, a dress for school, robes and headcoverings appropriate for the mosque, and “teacher Razanne.”
The NoorArt site explains that
In and Out Razanne comes with a two-piece fashion set for wear inside and outside the home. At home Razanne loves to dress in all the latest fashions. In a minute she can be ready to go out with this traditional jilbaab coat. Razanne helps Muslim girls understand that in the home they can be the ultimate fashion statement yet still have attractive attire while dressing modestly outside the home.”
You can purchase the dolls directly from NoorArt.
If you want your dolls to have even more coverage than Razanne in her prayer robes, you can turn to Fulla, who in one iteration comes with this outdoor fashion:
Astrolabe Toys, which sells Fulla, describes her thus:
Straight from the Middle East, the Fulla Doll is about to make her U.S. and Canada debut! For years, the Fulla Doll has been a major source of connection and comfort for Middle Eastern and European children. Now, American girls can not only learn about a lifestyle a world away, but they can also learn core values and acceptance of other cultures. The best part is girls can learn these virtues while having fun!The Fulla Doll has elevated dolls to a whole new level — one that impacts society at the core and aims to change the world through tolerance and understanding. Fulla is not just a toy; she is an icon for children to emulate as they become strong, educated women who work to make the world a better place. She promotes self-respect and kindness towards others to help young girls gain strong virtues as they play.
Fulla comes with many clothing options, including summer wear like dresses, skirts and T-shirts. She loves to read, play sports and teach and mentor others. Fulla Doll has a complete line of accessories and fun options, like furniture and jewelry!
And just like other popular dolls, Fulla loves to shop, spend time with her friends, cook and read.
Other variations of the doll are available at Shop Fulla, Halalco, BuyItNow!, Hedeyah, and on eBay (simply search for “Fulla doll” on the auction site). Go check them out–under that abaya, Fulla has some fashion sense, and even some glam sensibilities. And you know what I like about Fulla? She appears to be an MD, as her creators offer a child-sized Fulla Doctor Trolley Play Set.
Hedeyah also offers Leen, a talking, modestly dressed Muslim doll. According to the site, “Leen. . .can recite Al-Fatehah, the first Surah in Al Quran, or sing a nice Arabic song about her mother.”
The children are supposed to be eight years old, young enough under Islamic law for Sara to appear in public without a headscarf.But each of the four models of Sara comes with a white scarf to cover her brown or black hair.
Another toy seller, Mehdi Hedayat, said: “Dara and Sara are strategic products to preserve our national identity.
“And of course, it is an answer to Barbie and Ken, which have dominated Iran’s toy market.”
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