Barbie may be known for her long golden locks along with her slender (albeit completely unnatural) curves, but an online movement is now trying to showcase how beautiful — and bold — Barbie can be without her trademark hair.
It all started, as many online movements do, on Facebook. Friends Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, who have both been personally affected by cancer, launched a page called Beautiful and Bald Barbie: Let’s see if we can get it made. Their goal was to petition toymaker Mattel to create a Barbie that would appeal to young girls who suffer from hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments, or other disorders such as alopecia and trichotillomania.
According to the Facebook page, the doll would not only serve as a role model for young girls dealing with hair loss themselves, but also be a way to help them cope with family members who have lost their hair — as Bingham did when she was being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — and bring the topic of baldness into the public conversation.
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“My daughter is battling leukemia right now, and she’s been going through chemotherapy for the last two years,” Sypin, a special-education teacher’s aide from Lancaster, Calif., told MSNBC. “She was bald for about seven months, and we would go to the store and people would stare or kids would ask her why she’s bald … We think [a bald Barbie] would be therapeutic, and I think it would help baldness become more quote-unquote normal. It wouldn’t be this odd thing that people don’t have hair.”
While the Facebook campaign started small, because of a large media response, the number of “likes” has swelled over the past few days to more than 56,000 on Thursday evening and growing every minute. For the most part, fans of the page have shown their support for the idea, relaying ways that cancer has touched their lives and saying they would purchase one of these dolls, especially if the proceeds were slated for a childhood-cancer charity. The movement has even jumped gender lines, with an accompanying Facebook campaign — Bald G.I. Joe Movement — giving boys who suffer from hair loss their own action figure.
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As for Mattel, the women who started the campaign told USA Today that they have contacted the company through general form letters and received a reply saying that Mattel doesn’t accept ideas from outside sources.
That’s a shame, as the demand, appeal and overall social implications of the Beautiful and Bald Barbie could in part lessen some of the many criticisms that the toy has received throughout its 50-plus-year history — the biggest of which being that what Barbie boasts in beauty, she lacks in social responsibility.
Let’s face it: Barbie has assumed many incarnations, from flight attendant to soldier and even an “alternative” pink-haired, tattooed young woman, but to the 12,000 children who are diagnosed with cancer each year, going bald would be Barbie’s most rewarding role yet.
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