Childhood cancer: how much could a bald Barbie help?

"We girls can do anything" - bald or not.

For some, Barbie dolls are the symbol of adventurous, beautiful and stylish women who can be anything they want to be. Now how can that help little girls who lost their hair due to chemotherapy to fight cancer? I believe: a lot.

A Facebook group called „Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made” has formed to try and convince Mattel to bring a bald Barbie to the shelves. Over 130.000 people believe that this would show that being bald does by no means mean that you cannot be beautiful.

But there are others who are skeptical whether a bald Barbie would really have this effect. Even the American Cancer Society is one of these.

“Childhood cancer is exceedingly rare. I would also argue that cancer is rare among the age group of women likely to have daughters young enough to play with Barbies”, writes their media relations director, Andrew Becker, concerning the bald Barbie efforts.

So this discussion seems to revolve around the question of emotional and psychological benefits vs. the actual demand for such a doll.

After signing people share why this cause is important to them and show a lot of hope and admiration.

The pro-bald-doll crowd has also launched a petition, which is supposed to put some authority behind the wish for a hairless Barbie – but so far only 3.500 people have signed it.

Is the bald Barbie a good idea?

Now, having lost a close friend to cancer when I was 16, I generally believe that anything that can make someone who is suffering from cancer feel better is definitively a good idea.

But whether asking a global company to manufacture a product that may not be in high demand just for the sake of its metaphorical meaning is the right way is questionable.

Does this message need to be attached to a specific product?

Also, this group is asking for the profits to go to childhood cancer research – which generally (again) is a very good idea.

In the area of breast cancer we are already familiar with products being sold to support research in this field – but (objectively) why should a company invest in a product like this if it is uncertain whether they even get the chance to help due to this investment?

Because if Becker is right and such a doll would gather dust on the shelves then even such an investment would not help.

Mattel have given out a press release (which unfortunately, I was only able to find in German) in which they say that they are already supporting a range of non-profit organisations in a similar area, but that they take this cause seriously and will think about it.

Beautiful – with or without Barbie.

Concerning little girls battling cancer and how a bald Barbie would help, Becker says:

“Each one is a tragedy, and they and their families deserve sympathy and support, but it is critically important to pull back from this exercise in consumer bullying and ask whether the need this movement is rising to meet is as big as imagined, and whether it will result in any meaningful support reaching those who need it.”

I believe conveying the message that being bald still means you are beautiful is important. That holds also true for Barbie’s other metaphorical meanings like the courage to become whoever you want to be and be fabulous while you are getting there.

I do not know about you, but I used to cut my Barbie’s hair (and all my other doll’s) when I was a kid all the time (well, once in each case).

Maybe this is all it needs? Cut any doll’s hair and show your little girl that the pretty face and the beaming smile and the twinkling in the eye is still there?

I think the message is more important than its packaging.

And I can only speak for myself, but I guess that in order to feel this way and to generally support the idea of putting funds towards childhood cancer research one does not need to sign a petition for the creation of a Barbie doll.

Here you can find more news about the “Bald Barbie Campaign“.

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