JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - There are no hot shorts or crop
tops for this Barbie-lookalike, and certainly no boyfriend. An
Indonesian has come up with a modest alternative to the popular
doll which she hopes will inspire virtue in Muslim girls.
Called Salma, from the Arabic word for peace, the doll
comes dressed in a variety of costumes, ranging from the black
"abaya" cloak to a loose-fitting white prayer dress.
All Salma's clothes are long-sleeved and down to her ankles
and come with matching headscarves that cover her hair.
Salma's creator, businesswoman Sukmawati Suryaman, said she
was inspired to create a modestly dressed doll last year after
seeing her niece playing with Barbie.
"I remember thinking that I wish we had Muslim dolls like
these as we all know that children easily imitate their toys,"
she told Reuters.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, with
85 percent of the 226 million people Muslim, and most are
moderates. Many women dress modestly and cover their hair in
accordance with Islamic requirements, making Salma's
conservative clothing more familiar to children than the
glittering, pop-star inspired outfits donned by dolls such as
Barbie and Bratz.
Suryaman, who studied engineering, runs her business from
home. She imports the plastic dolls from China and with the
help of two neighbors, designs and sews clothing and
The dolls are then packed into boxes and sold via retailers
or the Internet at www.bonekasalma.com for between 60,000 to
80,000 rupiah ($7 to $9).
On the Web site, Salma is called the "Muslim Barbie doll."
Suryaman sells about 200 units a month, with the number
usually rising towards the Eid al-Fitr Muslim feast that ends
the holy month of Ramadan, a time when families exchange gifts.
She plans to export the doll to neighboring Malaysia and
Brunei, which also have large Muslim populations.
"I think she can be a role model, she is an alternative.
Barbie wears skimpy cloths while Salma dressed in modest way
with headscarf," said Tina, an Indonesian mother who was buying
Salma dolls for her daughters.