It was only a matter of time…
I’ve never been a Barbie kind of gal for many reasons. I never had one. The primary reason being one of my older sisters got a Barbie for Christmas one year, so therefore she had a claim on the Barbie brand. “Barbie land” for me was off limits. Why I have no idea. I guess it was the pecking order of things at my house. Me, I received a Tammy doll that same year.
Never heard of the Tammy doll?
That’s not too surprising. I guess Tammy didn’t catch on like Barbie. Could it be because Tammy looked more realistic, more ordinary, more normal?
Tammy had a noticeably (yes, my sister and I definitely noticed) thicker figure, smaller breasts and larger feet. She also “wore” more sensible clothing. Like Barbie, she too had a younger sister, but interestingly enough, she did not have a boyfriend like Barbie’s Ken. Hmm…
Barbie on the other hand, well we’re all familiar with Barbie and her fine attributes.
But I’d like to stress here, I’m not opposed to Barbie dolls. If they are/were your or your child’s forte, that’s fine with me. It really is.
And for the record, I’d also like to mention I do have a daughter. She never was into dolls period. Never wanted a Barbie. Never received a Barbie.
It’s entirely possible for girls to survive, grow up and turn out just fine without ever owning a Barbie!
Recently there has been a lot of buzz about Mattel possibly mass producing a Cancer Bald Barbie. There has even been a Facebook petition drive going on to persuade Mattel to do so. So far Mattel has resisted, stating they don’t generally send unsolicited toy ideas to their toy designers. In this case, I think Mattel is doing the right thing by not proceeding.
After visiting one of the Bald Barbie Facebook pages, (yes, there are several) I guess I must be in the minority on this one, but here goes…
The mission as stated on their Facebook page is as follows:
“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.”
Although I believe those hopping onto the “Bald Barbie bandwagon” do have the best intentions, I still can’t quite get behind the idea of a bald cancer Barbie and I’m not even entirely sure why not. I do know I don’t like the mixed messages such a doll might give.
Primarily, because there’s nothing “normal” about having cancer, especially when you’re a child, and no doll, bald or otherwise is going to change that fact. It doesn’t matter how many bald dolls you surround a child with, that child will still know she is not “normal.”
And choosing Barbie as a “normal” role model seems pretty ridiculous to me somehow.
Is Barbie the best choice here?
For example, I would feel a lot more comfortable with this whole idea if instead of Barbie, her little sister Skipper was chosen to be the bald cancer doll in the Barbie line-up. That’s an idea I could maybe get behind.
A child-like doll for a childhood illness makes way more sense to me. Such a doll would also make the statement that children do indeed get cancer.
Is anyone listening?
In addition to Bald Barbie, there is a “Brave GI Joe” cancer doll idea also being tossed around.
Why does the boy cancer doll get to be called brave?
Can’t Bald Barbie be brave too?
Why is the female version of this plan primarily focused on hair and outer beauty?
Doesn’t that bother others?
It bothers me.
In addition, call me cynical, but in my view this is also another example of the disease of cancer potentially being turned into yet another way to make a buck. It makes me uncomfortable to see profits being made directly from selling cancer merchandise, especially toys.
The cancer industry is alive and well, but in toyland?
I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before bald Barbie makes her appearance on store shelves.
People will undoubtedly find Bald Barbie packaged up in a beautifully adorned box with cancer ribbons, probably gold ones because gold ones represent childhood cancer. Parents and others will dig into their pockets and buy Bald Barbie. On top of “helping little girls with cancer to feel beautiful,” they will also have made their cancer donations. They will have accomplished two good deeds in one.
Sounds good on the surface doesn’t it?
But who is really going to benefit?
Is the little girl who has cancer really going to feel more normal and beautiful by playing with Bald Barbie? Is this really a doll’s job? Even more importantly, is Bald Barbie going to bring the little girl with cancer any closer to a cure?
I’ve never had a child with cancer, but blogger Mary Tyler Mom has experienced this heart-ache and she agrees with me. Another who also agrees is A.S. Becker, blogger from the American Cancer Society’s Media Relations Team, who states in his recent post that the Bald Barbie demand is an over-reach. Their two posts are well worth a look.
In my opinion, a child with cancer does not need a token bald doll. In my opinion, what a child with cancer does need is less harsh cancer treatment options. That child needs hope for a normal life span. That child needs a cure. Her family may be in dire financial straits. They may or may not have medical insurance. They may have huge travel, living and medical expenses. They may have to take time away from work. They may need help caring for other children in the family. They may need psychological counseling. The list of things they may need is endless.
Wouldn’t it make more sense for Mattel (or anyone) to give or keep giving directly to a cancer research organization or other charities that provide direct help to those affected by childhood cancers?
Finally, do you really believe Mattel would donate a significant amount of any profits it might make from Bald Barbie to cancer facilities or cancer research?
Again, call me skeptical, but I don’t believe they would.
And even if “painted gold,” it still feels like more “pinkwashing” of cancer to me.
I happen to believe little girls (and boys) with cancer deserve more.
Good intentions will not help children with cancer lead longer lives. Better treatments and cures will do that.
It’s our responsibility to see they get both.
Like always, it’s about choice.
As for me, I say no to bald Barbie.
What about you?
Do you believe a Bald Barbie is a good idea? Why or why not?
Are you troubled by mixed messages Bald Barbie might give?
Just wondering, have you ever heard of the Tammy doll?