A new campaign promoting the creation of a Bald and Beautiful Barbie has taken Mattel by storm. Fans of the Barbie meant for cancer patients or children of cancer patients are using a Facebook page to promote the idea, arguing that being bald can be beautiful and should be endorsed by Mattel.
We would like to see a Beautiful and Bald Barbie made to help young girls who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments, alopecia or trichotillomania, reads a description on the campaign's Facebook page.
Also, for young girls who are having trouble coping with their mother's hair loss from chemo. Many children have some difficulty accepting their mother, sister, aunt, grandparent or friend going from a long-haired to a bald, the statement continues.
Inspiration Came From Within
The campaign launched by Jane Binham and Beckie Sypin has become immensely popular in a matter of weeks. The Facebook page has more than 45,000 likes and nearly 5,000 comments.
When I read the article about Mattel making a one of a kind bald Barbie for Genesis, I though how wonderful that would be, with so many other children dealing with hair loss from chemo, aloepcia or trichotillomania, Bingham told the Daily Mail.
I thought we could raise awareness for these conditions. Raise awareness that children get cancer too... It would be a win all around, she continued.
Bingham has lost her hair in a battle with an incurable form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and she told the Daily Mail that her daughter struggled with her mother's hair loss.
It takes an emotional toll on the child, she said. I had very long blond hair... She would mimic me and she would try and wrap scarves on her head too.
The Bald and Beautiful Barbie Facebook page shows pictures of young girls who have lost their hair to cancer treatments and offers support on why a Bald Barbie could help young girls cope with the disease. Accessories for the cancer-stricken Barbie could include hats and scarves, just like they do for girls struggling with cancer.
Mashable reports that the page's administrators have contacted Matell, but the company claims it does not accept unsolicited ideas from outside sources.
Childhood Cancer Incidence Has Increased
The Bald and Beautiful Barbie page also expresses hope that if the doll were made, a portion of proceeds [would] go to childhood cancer research and treatment.
The National Cancer Institute reports that in 2007 approximately 10,400 children in the U.S. under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer, of which about 1,545 will die from the disease. Approximately 1 or 2 out of every 10,000 children in the U.S. develops cancer each year.
In the past 20 years, the National Cancer Institute reports that more children have been diagnosed with invasive cancers than in the past. However, the survival rate for childhood cancers has also increased from 58.1 percent in 1975-77 to 79.6 percent in 1996-2003.
Mattel's Rocky History With Unconventional Barbies
While there is an overwhelming support for the Bald Barbie on its Facebook page, Mattel has a history of sparking controversies with nontraditional Barbies.
In 1997, the company teamed up with Nabisco to launch an Oreo Fun Barbie. Although the Barbie was manufactured both in black and white, many critics in the African-American community found the doll to be racist. Oreo had historically been used as a derogatory term for African-Americans, meaning that a person is black on the outside and white on the inside. When the Oreo Fun Barbie proved to be unsuccessful, Mattel recalled the unsold stock.
Mattel has also had a number of bloopers with age-inappropriate Barbies. In 2002, Pregnant Midge, Barbie's best friend, hit shelves. Midge wore a wedding ring to signal her status as a married woman. The pregnant doll had a stomach shell attached by magnets to a normal-looking doll to make Midge look pregnant. Inside the stomach girls could find a baby, Nikki. Parents complained that the doll promoted teen pregnancy and was inappropriate for young children.
Similarly, Mattel had good intentions in 1975 with their Growing Up Skipper doll, but were met with angry complaints from parents. The Growing Up Skipper doll featured Barbie's younger sister. By turning Skipper's arm in circles, the doll would grow an inch and grow small breasts on her chest. Skipper went through a number of transformations in the 80s and, in 1997, Teen Skipper was introduced. Rather than looking like a child, Teen Skipper appeared to be 16-years-old and the company was able to avoid the past sexual controversy.
In an effort to be more politically correct, Mattel introduced Share a Smile Becky, a doll in a wheelchair, in 1997. The company came under fire, however, when a 17-year-old in Tacoma, Wash., who suffered from cerebral palsy, discovered that Becky's wheelchair would not fit into the elevator of Barbie's $100 Dream House. Following reports from angry parents, Mattel promised it would redesign the Dream House in the future to better accommodate handicapped Becky.
In 2003, Barbies were banned from Saudi Arabia following contentions that the dolls wore revealing clothes, had shameful postures and used accessories and tools [that] are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. In Middle Eastern countries, a special Barbie is sold: Fulla. She wears a hijab and is deemed more suitable for the Islamic market. Fulla is not made by Mattel.
Mattel has also come under fire for sexist Barbies. In 1992, the company released Teen Talk Barbie, who spoke a number of different phrases such as I love shopping! and Wanna have a pizza party? Some dolls, however, said, Math class is tough! The comment led to stern criticism from the American Association of University Women and the company quickly changed the Barbie's phrase to Math class is tough, but not impossible!
A similarly problematic doll was Sleepy Time Gal Barbie. Although Barbie herself did not have any major flaws, one of her accessories was a book, How to Lose Weight. The book offered only one suggestion, written on the back: Don't Eat. Parents were horrified.