When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to play with Barbie. My mother feared that Barbie’s unrealistic proportions and stereotypical good looks would plant the seed for body-image issues that would haunt me later in life.
At the time, I was furious – a victim of a great injustice! I dedicated myself to smuggling in the contraband doll, discovering an old stash of the dolls in my grandparents’ basement leftover from the 60s, gladly accepting any discarded dolls from friends who had given their Barbie a haircut gone awry.
In retrospect, perhaps my mother was onto something (though of course I will never admit that to her). After all, at life-size Barbie’s proportions are so out of whack that she wouldn’t even be able to stand upright.
But even if you’re not a lover of Mattel’s iconic doll, it’s hard not to give them a nod of approval with their latest “friend of Barbie.”
Unlike most Barbie dolls, with their luscious locks, this new doll is bald. She will be distributed exclusively to children’s hospitals and other locales that treat kids with cancer throughout the U.S. and Canada, landing in the hands of girls often affected by hair loss. The doll is meant to communicate a simple message to girls who are often self-conscious about their hair loss: their beauty and self-worth transcends their hair (or lack thereof).
Mattel’s decision to produce the doll came after a Facebook group called “Beautiful and Bald Barbie!” scored thousands of likes within hours of its creation. (The group now has 159,000 fans!) Co-founder of the cause Beckie Sypin has a 12 year-old daughter who lost her hair after chemotherapy treatment. She hopes that the bald doll will help children with cancer cope with their hair loss.
The doll will be passed out at hospitals in 2013. Many people are now calling on Mattel to make the doll available on store shelves so anyone can pick one up to help further reduce the stigma of hair loss for girls.
Sure, she’s still a Barbie doll, but I have a feeling that Barbie’s newest friend may even get a nod of approval, albeit it grudgingly, from my mom.