Thanks to a Facebook campaign and a petition drive by two determined women, Mattel has agreed to create a brand-new doll that will be one of Barbie’s friends, who also happens to be bald.
Jane Bingham of New Jersey was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma five years ago, and created the “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” Facebook page to encourage others to join the campaign to create a bald Barbie that would provide young girls with a different kind of role model. Many youngsters lose their hair due to cancer and other diseases, and seeing a bald doll would remind them that they aren’t alone during this difficult time.
Bingham began the campaign with a friend, Rebecca Sypin, whose daughter also lost her hair during treatment. Both are pleased that the campaign was a success, as the Barbie doll will be developed and will come with wigs, hats, scarves and more. The doll will not be sold in stores, and instead Mattel is donating the dolls to hospitals and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. According to a press release, a spokesman for Mattel said the company wanted to “give the dolls to children who would directly benefit from them rather than sell them at retail.”
While this is a HUGE step, I do think the scope could go even further. In the same release, Mattel commented that they don’t want to profit from the dolls. This is an admirable endeavor, but why not attempt to sell them and then donate the proceeds to a worthy cause. That way, the dolls will be available right on the same shelf as the "standard" Barbie.
Unfortunately, the current plan will limit access to the dolls. Why shouldn’t children with a full head of hair have access to these dolls as welll? Part of the goal is to make these children who have lost their hair for whatever reason realize that though they are special, they are not “abnormal” or “weird.” Seeing these dolls on the same shelves with Barbie herself could benefit not only the youngsters who have lost their hair, but could also be useful for the children they face at school every day who don’t quite understand.
Though the end result might not be exactly what Bingham and Sypin had in mind, it is still a remarkable feat that they were able to fight for their beliefs and convince Mattel to take this important leap. Truly, Mattel could’ve ignored the efforts and done nothing, so I commend the company for listening and allowing these voices to be heard. This is a big step forward, and could do wonderful things for the children that do indeed have access to the dolls. If nothing else, it really demonstrates that if you fight for what you believe in, you really can make a change.
Not only did Mattel get involved, but MGA Entertainment, creators of Bratz and Moxie dolls, will also be releasing six bald dolls this year. According to the company, the “plan comes on the heels of an ever-growing social media movement that calls for toymakers to create hairless dolls to emotionally comfort young girls and boys who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments.” These dolls will be available Toys "R" Us stores.