April 2, 2012
Bald Barbie Campaign Convinces Mattel To Produce New Doll
A social networking campaign to make a bald version of the popular Barbie doll as a tribute to cancer patients or kids suffering from other disorders that result in hair loss has worked, as the toy's manufacturer, Mattel, has announced a special new product that will be distributed exclusively through children's hospitals in North America.
In a statement posted to their corporate Facebook page on March 27, Mattel said, "Play is vital for children, especially during difficult times. We are pleased to share with our community that next year we will be producing a fashion doll that will be a friend of Barbie, which will include wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience. For those girls who choose, the wigs and head coverings can be interchanged or completely removed.""We will work with our longstanding partner, the Children´s Hospital Association, to donate and distribute the dolls exclusively to children´s hospitals directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss," they added. "A limited number of dolls and monetary donations will also be made to CureSearch for Children´s Cancer and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation“¦ we made the decision not to sell these dolls at retail stores, but rather get the dolls directly into the hands of children who can most benefit from the unique play experience."
According to Houston Chronicle blogger Francisca Ortega, the Facebook group responsible for bringing attention to the issue, "Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let's see if we can get it made", had more than 150,000 fans as of March 29.
Likewise, a Change.org petition calling for the doll's creation had gathered nearly 35,000 signatures, and a similar effort also led to the creation of the "True Hope" line of bald dolls with fashion accessories by Bratz and Moxie Girlz manufacturers MGA. Those toys are due out in June, according to Ortega's report.
"MGA's mission is to provide joy and happiness to kids around the world. We believe children are our legacy and want them to be healthy, have confidence in their imagination and build their dreams into reality," MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian said in a February statement.
"We have a responsibility to children and we take that responsibility very seriously," he added. "The Bratz and Moxie Girlz 'True Hope' dolls are designed to support and comfort young girls and boys who so bravely endure cancer treatments. MGA also wants to be an active supporter in the fight to develop lifesaving treatments for children."
The "Bald and Beautiful Barbie" campaign was launched in January of this year by Jane Bingham and Rebecca Sypin, each of whom has lost daughters to cancer, according to Time.com's Erin Skarda.
Their campaign was further inspired by the story of a four-year-old Long Island girl named Genesis Reyes, according to a March 29 Daily Mail report. As the UK newspaper reports, Reyes "announced that she did not feel like a princess without her hair," leading the parents of another youngster being treated at the same medical facility to ask Mattel's CEO, a close friend, to create a unique, bald "Genesis" doll for the girl. After hearing of Reyes' story, the Daily Mail says, Bingham and Sypin launched their Facebook page.
When the campaign began drawing attention throughout the U.S., Mattel invited the two women to their headquarters to discuss the possibility of developing a bald Barbie-franchise doll. During that visit, Skarda says that Bingham and Sypin were informed of the company's plans to produce such a product in the near future.
As previously reported on RedOrbit, the two friends, neither of whom were experienced activists, said that their sole goal was to convince Mattel to introduce a line of bald Barbies in an effort to show solidarity and support for children suffering from cancer, Alopecia or Trichotillomania.
From the start, the women wanted to make it clear that they were not trying to strong-arm or shame the toy manufacturer into producing the bald doll. As Sypin said in January, "We´re not demanding that the company do anything“¦ We´re just hoping somebody sees this and can help us make it happen."