We walked through the aisles of the toy section, and there amongst the standard issue Westernized blonde and brunette dolls was one that stood out and very much caught my eye. She wasn't like the others. Yes, she was made of plastic and she was beautiful, but there was something else about her. She was wearing a hijab. There in the aisles of Target was a gorgeous Muslim doll for girls. I pointed her out to my daughter, who stopped, let out a big sigh, and said, "Wow, she is beautiful!" And then, of course, proceeded to beg me to buy it for her.
The Hearts for Hearts Girls doll is named Shola, and she comes from Afghanistan. While there are no Muslim references on the packaging, the hijab and the fact that she comes from a nation where 80 percent of the population is Muslim means that a lot of little girls finally have a doll they can really relate to.
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We live in a city that, like many, is a melting pot. Seeing a woman in a hijab is not unusual. So it wasn't just refreshing, but also very culturally cool, that a mass-produced doll would celebrate a girl wearing her traditional garb, especially when she is feet away from the oodles of blonde-haired, blue-eyed dolls that are the norm. Hearts for Hearts Girls specializes in dolls from other cultures and countries. There is Nahji from India, Tipi from Laos, and Rahel from Ethiopia, among their other diverse doll offerings. But the Shola doll hits the shelves at a time where Muslims worldwide are facing prejudice and judgement.
It's a sad fact that there are many across the globe who see people who appear Muslim as a some sort of threat. For example: "The woman in Massachusetts … that was punched while walking her kids for no other reason than wearing a hijab on her head, was because someone thought that because she wears it, she is a terrorist," Ahmed Rehab of Council on American Islamic Relations told CBS. Or in Sweden this month, when a pregnant woman wearing a hijab was assaulted while walking down the street for no other reason than that she was wearing a scarf and veil.
This doll isn't just for little girls who are Muslim - it is for all little girls. It's a joyful way to embrace other walks of life, no matter what traditions or religions one adheres to, a way to embrace diversity. We went into Target on the search for Legos, but if not for that, I would have loved to buy Shola for my girl.
Photo Source: Amazon/Shola is available for $34.99 here.
-By Sunny Chanel
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