Jewish World Review March 14, 2001/ 19 Adar 5761

Bottom line is the neckline

By Steve Lipman

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- MONICA GARCIA wants to make a modest profit. Or a profit modestly.

The mother of a 2-month-old daughter recently started a line of handmade clothing for Barbie and like-sized dolls that she and other Orthodox mothers can feel comfortable giving to their daughters.

Her firm’s name is Ms. Modesty, and it features some 20 dresses and shirts and skirts designed according to the traditional precepts of tznius, or modesty: high necklines, low hemlines.

“For parents who want modest and moral doll clothes for their children,” the Web site states.

Garcia, a native of Mexico who lives in Irvine, Calif., and works as a longshoreman, recalls having an old Barbie. “I didn’t like the way they dressed Barbie — she was not dressed very modestly.” Barbie, probably the best-selling doll in history, has always reflected current fashions; today that means showing a lot of skin. Or in Barbie’s case, a lot of plastic.

“I didn’t want my baby playing with a Barbie who’s dressed like a prostitute,” Garcia says.

She sewed clothing for her own dolls years ago, and thought to do it for herself and other frum, or religious, mothers.

Garcia’s line — for Barbie and other dolls 11 inches tall- is sold online, at a Jewish gift shop in Los Angeles and at her Irvine synagogue. “It’s basically all word of mouth,” says Garcia, who was raised Catholic and converted to Judaism three years ago.

Doll garb that reflects adult fashions “is important for [children’s] adjustment,” says Debby Caplan, an Orthodox resident of the Lower East Side and the mother of a 3-year-old daughter. “It makes her feel better about herself.

“For my daughter to dress a certain way but be exposed to people” — or dolls — “who dress a different way could make her feel uncomfortable,” says Caplan, a doctoral student in psychology. Her daughter doesn’t have a Barbie yet. “I could see getting [Ms. Modesty creations] if she is interested in a Barbie.”

“All the people, Baruch Hashem,[ thank G-d] have been very enthusiastic,” Garcia says.

Steve Lipman is a staff writer with the New York Jewish Week. Send your comments by clicking here.


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