Rep. Ilhan Omar's likeness inspires a 'hijarbie' doll

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Ilhan Omar admits it's "a little strange" to see herself like this, but likes the sentiment. @hijarbie Instagram

Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American elected to serve in a state legislature, has become an inspiration to women and girls all over.

At least one of them has found a creative way to keep spreading Omar's inspiring story further still.

Omar, a first-term Democrat representing Minneapolis, is one of numerous real-life women whom Haneefah Adam, a 26-year-old Nigerian, has used as models for her "hijarbie" dolls, a fashionable Muslim take on the classic American Barbie.

Whereas Barbie was criticized for setting unrealistic standards for body type and beauty, Adam's dolls are setting a pretty high bar for career success.

Aside from Omar, other women lending their likeness to Adam's hijarbies include fashion writers, filmmakers, and athletes, including the United States Olympic fencing competitor Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American in any sport to compete wearing a hijab. 

These dolls are not ready for mass production. (Not yet.) Adam's work, profiled recently in the Huffington Post, requires a painstaking attention to handcrafted detail, handpainted and sewn together herself. 

If they ever do go on the market though, she's got a potential customer here in Minneapolis. Asked about Adams' using her face (and story) to create a doll, Omar says it's "a little strange to have a doll in my likeness," but appreciates the symbolic power of the doll.

Girls need "aspirational" role models to look up to in their life, and if this is helping them find new ones, it's a "fabulous thing," the freshman legislator says.

"My youngest daughter wants to get a hijarbie," Omar says. "She thinks it looks just like her, and I love the fact that she feels that way."


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