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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

A Lesson in Humility

Yeah, Mattel…Why Isn’t There A Bald Barbie?


There have been countless Barbies sold since they first hit shelves in 1959 and while you’ve got your run of the mill versions there have also been numerous special edition Barbies. Things like their holiday Barbies, Barbies made to look like Hollywood stars etc. Well one group is now asking Mattel, makers of the famous doll line, to create a bald Barbie for children who have lost their hair due to cancer or other illnesses. And we’re here to say, Mattel, what’s taken you so long? 

Beckie Sypin, a co-founder of the cause, recently spoke with ABCNews.com about the movement which now has over 50,000 likes on its Facebook page (and growing rapidly), “Bald and Beautiful Barbie.” She told them, “We hope it gets the message out that being bald is beautiful and is no big deal.  There’s no need to cover up.”

Sypin’s 12-year-old daughter Kin Inich lost her hair after chemotherapy treatment but cancer is not the only condition she hopes to help and spread awareness about, alopecia and trichotillomania are two others. “She said if they make one, she would totally get it,” Sypin said of her daughter’s thoughts on the subject.  “The first thing said was if they make that doll, she would buy a bunch and take them to a children’s hospital and give them to children with cancer.”

Jane Bingham is Sypin’s friend and the other co-founder of the Facebook page. She lost her hair while undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “My daughter had some difficulty accepting me going from a long-haired blonde to a bald woman,” she wrote in a blog, saying a bald Barbie could be a great way for young girls to cope with hair loss that happens to them or someone they know.

It seems like a no-brainer to me. After all, Mattel has sold special edition Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Barbies, designed by Robert Best, in order to raise money and awareness ($2.50 is donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for each doll sold, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $25,000). But not everyone is behind them. Some have suggested simply shaving or cutting the hair off of an already purchased Barbie. Here’s what that looks like.

Thanks, but no thanks, they say. They’d prefer something specially made for the cause, something more like this.

According to WCBS, Mattel made a one-of-a-kind bald Barbie for a 4-year-old cancer patient in New York last year. So it seems they aren’t opposed to the idea but perhaps they’re not ready to have their brand, forever associated with perfect beauty, be associated with something they don’t find attractive. I could be wrong of course but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t consider it. Though Sypin did receive a reply from Mattel who told her they do not accept ideas from outside sources. A lot of manufacturers take this stance to protect themselves from potential law suits of course but something tells me Sypin isn’t in this to get rich.

If the doll gets made, Sypin says the proceeds would go to a children’s cancer charity. “The women also started a ‘Bald G.I. Joe Movement’ Facebook page to help young boys dealing with baldness.  The women said so far, the response from Hasbro, G.I. Joe’s manufacturer, has been positive,” according to ABC who also attempted to reach out to Hasbro and Mattel but have yet to get a response. “We hope either Mattel does look at it and says okay, or that another company will pick up on the idea.” she said. After all, not everyone approves of Barbie dolls in the first place, so another company would be a viable option, but the visibility, marketing and brand name that goes along with them would certainly be a big advantage.

Lots of users are sharing their and their loved ones cancer stories on the Facbook page and showing their support to help get the doll made. What are your thoughts? Should Mattel make a Bald and Beautiful Barbie?

(via ABC News)

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  • https://twitter.com/#!/haversam [A]

    Chemo-Barbie wouldn’t sell that well..

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Really? A post about cancer and you make a chemo joke?

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    I can understand, from a business perspective, why they might not be considering mass-producing something like that, as there will always be more children without cancer than with. However, I DO think that Mattel should consider creating limited-edition runs of something like this. And maybe re-releasing them every couple of years.

    Then again, they’ve also created a Barbie doll in a wheelchair, so….

    I’m still waiting for a plus-size Barbie. Or rather, a “normal size” Barbie.

  • http://psychotronicvortex.tumblr.com/ Psychotronic (Michael F.)

    Well if they can put out a “Wiccan” Barbie (Google “Secret Spells Barbie” if you don’t believe me), I don’t see any reason why not?

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    If Barbie has no hair, what would little girls brush???

  • http://twitter.com/MarySueTwiteth Mary Sue

    It’s not like Mattel doesn’t do limited edition Barbies all the time, anyway.

    Or bought naming rights to a children’s hospital at UCLA where they could totally make a token donation of a couple bucks per doll sold.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannylimor Danny Limor

    It’s really not ABOUT selling well, is it? It’s about a company that makes billions of dollars a year selling children’s toys doing something nice for the sake of a relatively small group of kids who have been dealt a crappy hand.  Profit shouldn’t really enter into it.  They could make it something that you can order from a website if they’re not confident that it would sell well enough to warrant mass production and distribution.  It would be a small, simple gesture that would mean the world to some kids. There’s really no reason NOT to do it.

  • http://twitter.com/Remington_SL3 Paige Thompson

    I love you Mary Sue, but this article is rife with typos and spelling errors.  It really doesn’t make your blog look good.  Please proofread your articles before you publish them.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Is “[A]” joking? 

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    It’s a REAL surprise that they haven’t done either the plus or average Barbie! They’d be able to release entire new wardrobes so it would be a great marketing hook.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    This.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Introducing “Natural Body Hair” Barbie!

  • Anonymous

    I had Barbie dolls I got when my sister grew out of them, and I never cared for them much.  I wouldn’t ever, no matter how much they asked, buy them for a child as they exist now, but I would, however, buy several of these Barbies.  And, if in the future, they would make Barbie dolls like this, that can show children that beauty isn’t something that has to be so narrowly defined, I would certainly change my view, and be happy to purchase Barbies in the future.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Hmm, I found one and corrected it. Would you like to point out something specific?

  • http://twitter.com/HolliLoki Holly

    The following is from a blog written by a woman who lost her little daughter to cancer.
    http://www.chicagonow.com/mary-tyler-mom/2012/01/barbie-v-cancer/

    “A movement is afoot to strong arm Mattel into mass producing their signature tart, Barbie, into a bald symbol of beauty for little girls with cancer and other health conditions that make their hair fall out feel “accepted and beautiful.”

    “Mattel should make a Barbie with no hair so that every little girl fighting cancer feels beautiful!! The wish for this petition is that the Barbie is also named Hope and a portion of proceeds from the sales of this Barbie go to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.”

    “Lets make every child fighting an illness that causes them to lose their hair feel special and beautiful-like the Barbies/Dolls they play with!”

    “The goal of this “Barbie” is that all children know that bald is beautiful and deal with their own hair loss or a loved one’s . The proceeds from this doll would go to a pediatric Cancer research facilit.”

    Imma about to step up on my soapbox, kids, so consider yourself warned.

    Girls with cancer need a bald doll about as much as women with breast cancer need a pink Kitchen Aid mixer.  The hard truth, and spoken with authority as the mom of a girl treated for cancer, is that girls with cancer do not need a bald Barbie.  They do not need bald Disney princesses either.  I have no doubt that there are psychosocial benefits to having a bald representation of yourself if you are a kid in the middle of cancer treatment.  Our toddler daughter certainly preferred characters missing golden locks on top — Charlie Brown and Caillou were favorites of hers.  But need and want are at different ends of the spectrum.

    You know what girls with cancer need?  They need money.  They need lots and lots and oodles and oodles of dollars for the researchers working on their behalf.  Primarily, these researchers are attached to well established pediatric hospitals and universities, as pharmaceutical companies only minimally invest in pediatric cancer. You see, it is not in their financial interest.  Stone cold truth, people.   This network of hospitals is knows as “COG,” the Children’s Oncology Group.”The Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group, is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The COG unites more than 7,500 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities, and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe in the fight against childhood cancer.”What do Barbies run these days?  $10?  $20?  I don’t know, honestly.  Full disclosure, I have never been a Barbie kind of girl, even as a child.  They didn’t float my boat, not then, not now.  But that’s beside my point.  If you want to support children with cancer, and it is kids with cancer — boys and girls are diagnosed at the rate of 46 every school day in America — give that $10-$20 to a charity supporting and investing in new research for pediatric cancer.Believe me when I say, from the bottom of my broken heart, that children with cancer could use the kind of money that Mattel takes in during a single holiday season spent on research much more than they can use dolls that resemble them in follicles only. Let’s get real, okay?  If we wanted our dolls to look like our girls — if that is the premise behind the call for a bald Barbie — said dolls would not be built like unattainable fantasies of what women should look like. Can I get a witness?The only winner in the demand for a bald Barbie will be the marketers behind such a scheme.  Supporters and petitioners can tell themselves that all “proceeds” will go to a worthy children’s health related charity, but that will be but a mere pittance compared to the much bigger dollars that will go directly into the pockets of the manufacturers and marketers.All that pink you see in October?  A fraction of that is actually being delivered to researchers.  Marketers and manufacturers trade on the knowledge that millions of women will pony up for pink merchandise and they laugh every step to the bank, counting their pink pennies all the way.  If they see an opportunity, they will do the same with gold.  For many in the pediatric cancer community, that would be a win — making gold, the awareness color of pediatric cancer, as recognizable as pink.  To me, that always seemed a hollow goal.  Having major corporations raise awareness of pediatric cancer and the need to fund its research is A-OK in my book, but making a profit on that is not.This opinion may not be popular in a host of circles, and that is okay with me.  I speak with an awareness of what kids with cancer actually need and I would wish that knowledge on no one — not the people who slam me for not being active enough in the pediatric cancer community, nor the people who slam me for championing pediatric cancer over breast cancer.  As I say, you can’t win for trying, but I will keep trying.Kids with cancer need research more than they need a bald tart.  That’s right, Barbie, I called you a tart.  What of it?Oh, and if you are wanting to help those kids with cancer with those research $ they so desperately need, here are two organizations with excellent charity ratings that get the job done and don’t make a profit at it:CureSearch and St. Baldrick’s”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sidney-Tucker/100001091061061 Sidney Tucker

    I have to say that “Barbie” is a pop icon and a representation of our culture, whether good or bad.  ‘Chemo Barbie’ is tasteless.  Surely some marketing guy (or gal) could come up with something that sounds better.  Make a bald barbie.  Why not? 

  • http://ladymercury-10.livejournal.com/ Maiasaura

    It would be a really nice gesture, but nice gestures are voluntary displays of goodwill, not something that has to be done. I don’t think it’s fair to fault the company for not automatically agreeing when someone suggests it.  There are lots of nice gestures that can be made, and it’s not necessarily their responsibility to make all of them, or even this particular one.    

  • Anonymous

    I agree. If they marketed a ‘Survivor Barbie’ as a collector’s item, number the dolls and donate a little percentage of each one purchased to cancer research or St. Jude, I can imagine them selling like hotcakes.

  • E S

    Thanks for pointing us towards some good charities Holly. I was appalled when I learned about how much certain charities were raking in for their CEOs and how little of the donations actually go to the cause.

    I also dislike the Barbie franchise and probably still would not go for this version of her. I do love how many people are essentially challenging Barbie’s traditional look though.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lowsee Heidi Mason

    And since this was posted, the number of likes on the Facebook page have nearly doubled. Over 96,000 when I last checked.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    If you make something like this about raising funds and promoting acceptance for chemotherapy patience I have no doubt they will sell well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gorillazfan Emily Hill

    wow Mattel don’t expect my money for your products from now on I hate for my niece to think in order to be beautiful you have to have a full head of hair

  • Frodo Baggins

    You mean you were totally pro-Barbie, before this?

  • http://twitter.com/happybunny44 Talia Lewis

    If they made a bald barbie poeple would be upset that that dont have a down syndrome barbie or something. the solution to this is why dont people just start their own doll company and make the kinds of dolls you want.

  • Tori P

    I had a bald barbie when I was a kid. She came with about four wigs I could put on her head.  Bald barbie existed at some point.

  • http://twitter.com/MSchmidlkofer MichelleSchmidlkofer

    I cannot like this post enough. Even without having a personal connection with pediatric cancer, I have always found the facebook posts about bald Barbie ridiculous for this very reason. It’s treating a symptom of a society which tells us the very best thing we can be as females is beautiful, not actually fixing anything. Being beautiful is probably the last thing on a cancer patient’s mind, as they are focused on surviving. The inclusion of charities which can make a concrete difference makes this even better.