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This Company Is Making The Cutest Hijabi Dolls To Inspire Young Muslim Girls

“As a Muslim parent and speaking with other Muslim parents I hoped for a toy that would be more representative and inclusive, at the same time super cool and fun.”

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The Salam Sisters are five little dolls with big dreams and aspirations.

Instagram: @salam

Peter Gould, 36, from Australia, cofounded Zileej, the company that makes the dolls. He told BuzzFeed News the idea started with his daughters.

Instagram: @salam

“As a Muslim parent and speaking with other Muslim parents I hoped for a toy that would be more representative and inclusive, at the same time super cool and fun,” he said.

Zileej / Salam Sisters

The aim of the dolls is for girls to feel represented, which is why the dolls represent different ethnicities with a range of hair textures. “We want young girls who don’t often see their cultural identities and faith represented in a relatable way, to know that they can be proud of their background,” he said.

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He said: “Feeling a sense of representation is important from a young age, so that young girls can focus on achieving what they want to work toward.

“Whether it’s learning how to code, becoming a fashion designer, becoming an astrophysicist — and anything else they set their mind to.”

Each of the dolls — Nura, Maryam, Karima, Yasmina, and Layla — represent a range of interests, like becoming a fashion designer, a surfer, or an astronaut.

He said: “They have distinct aspirations, from becoming a designer to starting their own charity when they grow up. These messages are passed on through storybooks to encourage young girls to dream big about their future.“Each doll’s personality and aspirations are the outcome of a range of influences, from looking at incredible Muslim women (and women of other beliefs) who are setting brilliant examples for young girls everywhere. “We wanted this connection with real examples to show that dreams don’t have to stop at being dreams, they can become reality.”
Subhi Bora

He said: “They have distinct aspirations, from becoming a designer to starting their own charity when they grow up. These messages are passed on through storybooks to encourage young girls to dream big about their future.

“Each doll’s personality and aspirations are the outcome of a range of influences, from looking at incredible Muslim women (and women of other beliefs) who are setting brilliant examples for young girls everywhere.

“We wanted this connection with real examples to show that dreams don’t have to stop at being dreams, they can become reality.”

One of the dolls is based on Yassmin Abdel-Magied, the Australian activist. He said: “We drew inspiration not only from Yassmin’s achievements, but from many different women to create our characters.”

Instagram: @salam

Gould said: “These women range from superstar athletes to astronauts, fashion influencers, entrepreneurs, and more.

“The most priceless responses we’ve received are from young girls themselves. During our play-testing, it made me smile every time I heard a girl saying ‘she looks like me!’ or ‘I wear this to the mosque,’ or calling the scarf a superhero cape, with excitement on their faces.

“These expressions of joy made us think that maybe we’re taking a step in the right direction.

“I know that I never had an Asian doll that looked like me when I was little, let alone a doll that introduced the concept of being comfortable in the practice of my faith.”

Something that was very important to creators was that the hijabs should be optional to accommodate personal choice. Gould continued: “It was important to us to provide the option of a headscarf to make that immediate visual link to the Islamic faith, and to show young girls that making the choice to be visibly Muslim can be celebrated in a beautiful way.”

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“Each doll comes with a specially designed undercap and two headscarves: one with a sewn-in style, and the other with loose ends to encourage creativity with trying out different styles,” he added.

Ikran is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ikran Dahir at ikran.dahir@buzzfeed.com.

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