Nafas Mahdi hopes to make a modelling career as a real-life Kurdish Barbie. Photos: Rahel Artist
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Nafas Mahdi, 19, is from Sanandaj in East Kurdistan. She moved to the Kurdistan Region a year ago and now lives with her mother in Erbil. She dresses and puts on makeup differently, wanting to appear as a Barbie.
“Pursuing a job in fashion and my desire to appear as a Barbie landed me in South Kurdistan, as working in the design and model industry is prohibited in Iran. I couldn’t pursue a job in this sector there,” Mahdi said.
Her father died when she was only 1 year old.
“My father died 18 years ago. I was very small at the time. I have two elder sisters who are married. It is only me and my mother living together at the moment. My mother was in employment before, but has now retired. She has been very supportive to me, not letting me feel the gap left by the death of my father,” Mahdi detailed.
After completing her education, her family has been supportive of her choice. She and her mother came with me to Erbil so Mahdi could continue her job.
“I studied until the 12th grade of high school in Tehran. Then I started to do modeling, and now I want to think only about doing fashion and design. I design and tailor my own clothes. My mother helps me very much. She gives me ideas on the clothes design, choice of bags, shoes, earrings I wear. She also helps me in my clothes compatibility,” she added.
Mahdi had participated in fashion shows. But she hasn’t done joint modeling work with anyone.
“I participated in many fashion shows in the past. I worked jointly with other people. But I haven’t had any joint work on the thing I want to pursue,” she explained.
Mahdi recently posed as a Barbie. Photo: Rahel Artist
“I have been interested in this since I was child. Last week, I thought about doing something not done yet in Kurdistan. I decided to appear as a Barbie. I have a small face. So I tried to choose the kind of clothing that suited Barbie shape.," she detailed.
In many places, people undergo many cosmetic operations.
“They wear contact lenses, make their nose smaller and trim their weight to give themselves Barbie’s looks. But I didn’t do these things because I am naturally Barbie-shaped. I only chose the right design and makeup. Then I tailored the design with my mother. I can say I am the world’s only Barbie who hasn’t done any cosmetic surgery.”
She spoke about the expenses of her clothes
“It didn’t cost me much. It cost nearly $300. I along with my mother spent five days working on the design and tailoring of the clothes. We even made the earrings, bag, and shoes ourselves,” she said.
Mahdi now introduces herself as a Kurdish Barbie.
“I have many ideas and I will try to continue modeling, design and appearing as a Barbie in a way distinct to Kurdistan whose clothing is unsuitable for Barbie looks. I will be appearing in different clothes,” she said.
Mahdi has decided to remain in Erbil. Some of the clothes she wears are somehow revealing. She spoke about the possibility that these revealing clothes might cause trouble or her In Iran.
“I have no intentions to go back to Iran to live there again," she said. "I know that my pictures have been published by social networking sites. But this is no danger because I haven't engaged in politics. My modeling outside Iran isn’t a problem. However, it is prohibited inside Iran."
Barbies were first produced by Mattel, an American company, in 1959. The shape, skin tone, and profession of the dolls have undergone transformations and are widely debated in the West.