Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Beautiful and Bald Barbie

Recently, there's an online movement to get her to attempt what could be her biggest feat yet: going bald to fight cancer.

A Face book page titled “Beautiful and Bald Barbie Let’s see if you can get it made “was started before Christmas .By Wednesday afternoon, the page had more than 16,000 fans. The ambition is to get toy maker Mattel Inc. to produce a bald Barbie in support of children with cancer.

Friends Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, who live on opposite coasts but have both been affected by the disease cancer, hatched the idea to use Barbie for the movement because she's such a admired children's toy. Bingham has lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments to treat lymphoma. Sypin's 12-year-old daughter, Kin Inich, also lost her hair this year in her own battle with leukemia disease.

Mattel didn't return calls on Wednesday seeking comment, but the women said they have contacted the company through some common form letters. In return, they said, they've received form letters that say Mattel doesn't believe ideas from outside sources.
The women say a bald Barbie would provide an enormous platform to raise consciousness for children with cancer.

Barbie, all 11.5 inches of her, is one of the best well-known toys of all time. She can advertise for $10 at Wal-Mart or $7,000 on eBay.

Barbie also has taken on all sorts of incarnations throughout her nearly 53 years of continuation, crushing stereotypes and showing little girls that they can be whatever they want to be. There's been a stylish Grace Kelly Barbie; a Barbie in thigh-high pink boots; a tattooed Barbie; a pregnant Barbie friend, and another Barbie friend in a wheelchair.

But Barbie has also been dissed for not being as publicly responsible as she could be. Barbie is well known for her curves, which long have sparked complaints by women's groups that say she imposes an unachievable physical standard on young girls. She also was lambasted when a chatting version uttered an exclamation about math class being hard.

The friends who started the "Beautiful and Bald Barbie" movement aren't natural activists. Sypin, 32, is a special-education teacher's aide in Lancaster, Calif. Bingham, 41, is a photographer in Sewell, N.J.
"We are not demanding that the company do anything," Sypin said Wednesday. "We're just hoping somebody sees this and can help us make it happen."

Generally, Sypin said she's been pleased with the response to the Face book page. For instance, one fan of the page wrote of Mattel: "If they are making dolls that are inspiring young girls with careers then why not make a doll that would inspire young girls who are dealing with Cancer."

Some commenter’s even suggested the friends extend the movement to include a boys' toy. So, over the weekend, the women started an accompanying Face book page, "Bald G.I. Joe Movement."

Hasbro Inc., the maker of G.I. Joe, didn't immediately return a call for comment.

The movement has its critics, too.

Some of the people told to just take a normal Barbie and shave her hair off to make the same point. Bingham posted photos where she did just that - resulting in irregular, unattractive clumps on Barbie's head. She also posted digitally doctored pictures of a bald Barbie to show how beautiful the doll could be.


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