Children with cancer is clearly an area of medicine that needs more of our attention, our support, and our money. Suffering children, perhaps one of the most difficult realities to wrap your head around, even for the childless, need more of our resources all the time. But what does Mattel’s Barbie have to do with any of this? Apparently a lot, according to parents who have created an online petition at Change.org to create such a bald doll for the masses.
A Facebook page has also been erected by moms and dads entitled “Beautiful and Bald Barbie!” Their mission statement asserts with such a doll, little girls with certain hairless conditions can be encouraged that they are beautiful while also helping them to accept other women who have struggled with hair loss:
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 . 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.
Huffington Post writes that the company previously did once make a bald Barbie doll for a 4-year-old with cancer. But in mass producing this doll, dedicated parents are hoping that the company will donate some of the proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. And because Barbie wouldn’t be Barbie without a slew of accessories, parents are also reportedly asking that Mattel create a line of head scarves and hats for said doll.
While I tend to be for just about anything that makes girls feel more confident, as well as efforts to complicate the idea of what a princess actually is for girls, it’s worth acknowledging here the power that moms and dads are acknowledging Barbie to have. Through these petitions and Facebook protests, parents are in a sense openly admitting that if girls don’t find themselves reflected back in a Barbie — they lack an essential confidence about themselves, even when they’re battling something as immense as cancer. And that’s a pretty frightening admission all on its own to make about our daughters.
I hope that Mattel does hear the demands of these parents and does develop such a Barbie. And I hope that Mattel will donate not some but the majority if not all of the profits to St. Jude’s along with other pediatric cancer research. But I also I hope that parents everywhere, whether they believe in a bald Barbie or not, are observing this parental concession that whatever Barbie wears or appears has a profound impact on how girls value themselves and each other. Because if we’re all relying on a toy company to turn our girls into compassionate, confident, and respectful people, goodness are we doomed.
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