The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beautiful and Bald

Beautiful and Bald Barbie Facebook Campaign

In December, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Girl Museum highlighted the work of groups helping to boost the confidence of girls coping with cancer and the trauma of chemotherapy treatments. Now 2012 sees the launch of a campaign for the creation of a “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” to help girls come to terms with their hair loss. Launched on Facebook, the campaign was inspired by the one-off bald Barbie dolls created by manufacturer Mattel for two young girls suffering from cancer. 

Not everyone is 100% behind the campaign, however. Andrew Becker, a director of media relations for the American Cancer Society, caused a stir when on his blog he suggested that a mass produced Bald Barbie could “do more harm than good for kids and parents.” He further explained his fears that children whose lives were untouched by cancer could “end up being terrorized by the prospect of it in a far outsized proportion to their realistic chances”. Following a flood of criticism, Becker has since apologised and withdrawn his blog posting.

Barbie herself is no stranger to controversy. Since her creation in the 1950’s, she has attracted criticism from feminist groups for her ditzy persona and unnatural figure. More modern incarnations have angered parents with risqué costumes and punky tattoos, and a recent “Barbie makeover” campaign aimed to highlight the lack diversity displayed by those dolls representing different ethnic groups. Nevertheless, Barbie is well established as a cultural icon and is greatly loved by little girls the world over. 

With this popularity, Barbie has a great influence over children and their perception of beauty. Yes, there are negatives, and I’d be the first to welcome a campaign for “plus-size Barbie” or even just “natural and achievable proportions Barbie.” Her image does little to help girls’ body confidence, but what if that can change? If girls can see such an icon of beauty without hair, won’t that help them to have confidence when coming through their own treatment? Wouldn’t allowing a little girl to pick out Barbie’s wigs and headscarves to match her own make her feel normal and fashionable? And as for Becker’s fears that children would be afraid when faced with Bald Barbie, I argue the contrary: surely this would make them more aware and accepting of those who have suffered hair-loss due to illness?

If you agree, sign the petition and urge Mattel to make Barbie bald and beautiful.

-Vhari Finch
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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