Fact Check

Burka Barbie Dolls.

Rumor: Mattel has started selling a Burka Barbie doll for the toy's 50th anniversary.

Published Mar 3, 2015


Claim:   Mattel has released a burka Barbie doll for the toy's 50th anniversary.


Example:   [Collected via email, March 2015]

Just want to verify that the story below is true: new Muslim Barbie?

Origins: On 1 March 2015, the disreputable click-baiting web site American News regurgitated (and twisted) a news story from 2009 about a "burka Barbie" doll:

According to recent reports, Barbie just made the controversial decision to release the latest new iconic doll, complete with a burka.

The new Barbie is shown wearing a traditional Islamic dress with a mesh eyehole, and was displayed at an auction house in Florence, Italy to raise money for Save The Children. The Auction was part of celebrations held for Barbie's 50th anniversary.

"I have seen some pretty tawdry advertising campaigns in my time, but I must say this one takes the cake for insensitivity," (critic Barbara Kay) writes. "What's next in dolls that are 'important for girls to play with?' Illiterate Barbie? Forced-Marriage Barbie?"

In addition to misleading its readers about when the "burka Barbie" was created, American News included several other bits of misinformation. Primarily, Mattel did not create a "Burka Barbie" for the toy's 50th anniversary in 2009: the doll, which was an independent creation by Italian designer Eliana Lorena, was one of 500 dolls that was put up for auction that year as part of a benefit for the Save the Children Foundation:

Although Mattel supported the charity auction, the company did not "launch" the Burka Barbie to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Only a single doll of this description was produced (by someone else) for a charity auction; Mattel neither made nor sold the custom novelty doll created by Eliana Lorena.

Last updated:   3 March 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.