It’s hard to miss out on Barbie dolls as they’ve always been a staple childhood toy for kids and collectors. As many of us know, Barbie dolls have always been known for their long blonde hair, slender body and face full of makeup along with their fashionable clothes.
However, as time progresses the fashion doll game is shifting its focus from fashion to culture which can be seen with the Zendaya barbie. However, on our side of the world, one of the people in front of this movement to diversify the doll is Wesley Anak Juntan aka Wesley Hilton, an Iban descendent from Sekuau, Sibu.
Wesley, who is a full-time flight attendant for national carrier Malaysia Airlines, has been customising dolls ever since 2017. His first custom doll was a flight attendant Barbie clad in the Malaysia Airlines Kebaya costume. He soon customised the doll in uniforms from other airlines such as Qatar Airways, Air Asia and Malindo Air which he would then sell for the price of RM200 to RM350 each.
MCO gave him plenty of time to customise more Barbies since all air travel ceased during this period. The grounded time gave Wesley a chance to come up with the idea to localise Barbie dolls following Borneo’s heritage and culture, showcasing the dolls in their own specific costume from different tribes.
Wesley, who has always been an individual that has been proud of his culture, aims to utilise this project as a safeguard for his culture and to educate the public, especially the younger generation, about the uniqueness of Borneo’s traditional costumes and their tribes.
As of right now, there are 12 Borneo Barbies to choose from and the bestseller is The Kumang Barbie (Iban Barbie), as the headgear “Sugu Tinggi” is eye-catching and enchanting in real life.
The creative process involves Wesley using original Barbie dolls from Mattel. Each customised doll in the Borneo Barbie dolls collection is priced between RM350 and RM650. He also admits that it is not easy to make them and takes almost two to three days to complete one doll depending on the size of the doll and the details of the accessories.
In light of the recent incident of the 12-door longhouse and community hall at Long Selaan, Ulu Baram which were destroyed in a fire, Wesley decided to auction off an Orang Ulu inspired doll to help raise funds to rebuild the village. The bidding starts at RM300 and runs till 3 July 2020.
All proceeds will be donated to the cause.
For more info on the cause, you can check out his Instagram here.
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