By Courtney Linder
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an effort to spread a message of diversity and inclusion, a Pittsburgh entrepreneur is creating doll-sized hijabs for barbies. The small squares of fabric are each handmade in varying colors and patterns, mirroring the real-life headscarves that typically measure 36 inches on each side.
Gisele Fetterman, who started the Braddock Free Store and co-founded the excess food collection service 412 Food Rescue, goes to great lengths to instill values of egalitarianism in her three young children.
Back in 2013, before state-level bans against same-sex marriage were overturned, her husband, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, performed the first gay marriage in Allegheny County in their home, although the union would not be legally recognized.
Gisele Fetterman, originally from Rio de Janeiro, told her oldest child, Karl, now 8, that the ceremony would be between two men. He simply responded, “So what?”
Now, amid fallout from the Trump administration’s revised travel ban, daughter Grace, 5, doesn’t understand why none of her dolls resemble her friend Salma’s mother, Safaa Bokhari, a 30-year-old Muslim from Saudi Arabia who wears a hijab, or a traditional head covering. She lives in Oakland.
“I love that Grace doesn’t understand why someone would have an issue (with veiled dolls),” Gisele Fetterman said.
But while Gisele Fetterman easily found doll-sized glasses for Grace’s Barbies on Amazon after her daughter got her first pair, she could not find a hijab.
It was difficult for her to explain to her young daughter why a portion of the population was not represented in her doll collection, which includes an African-American doll and a doll in a wheelchair. As of 2015, Pew Research Center estimated that 3.3 million Muslims live in the United States.
Out of this frustration, Gisele Fetterman enlisted help from Cindy McCune, a stay-at-home mother of two and artist based in Rankin.