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Can bald be beautiful?

Date
Not for sale ... Mattel's refusal to retail bald Barbie dolls draws criticism.

Not for sale ... Mattel's refusal to retail bald Barbie dolls draws criticism. Photo: Supplied

Barbie's gone bald. The plastic beauty had a stint as a brunette but now she has been shorn of all of her flowing locks. Apart from this image, you won't be seeing anything of Bald Barbie, though. Mattel's branded the limited-release model as strictly non-retail and it's causing an outcry.

Bald Barbie was born of controversy: she was launched after a Facebook campaign by the mother of a girl who underwent chemotherapy in the US, which drew 150,000 supporters. But Mattel plans to donate the doll - officially a ''friend'' of Barbie's (can't cast aspersions on Babs' longevity) - directly to hospitals. The doll and its accompanying accessories - wigs, hats and headscarves - will not be appearing on shop shelves. ''Why not sell the bald Barbie?'' the Vatican's official daily newspaper said, describing Barbie as ''one of the most criticised and stigmatised [dolls] and rightly so''. The newspaper believes Bald Barbie would be good for children who have lost their hair through chemotherapy or illness. I think it might be equally useful for the statically greater number of girls who are seeing their mothers undergoing chemo. Georgie Cooper, who lost her mother to cancer when she was 17, agrees.

''It'd be particularly useful for girls from about four to 10 to help with role play,'' says Cooper, a mother of three. ''Barbie is a teenager, at least - she's got boobs - and maybe it would make it easier for them to see their mums like that.'' Cooper is a mobile beauty therapist who focuses on the ''therapy'' side of grooming, visiting clients in hospitals and care homes. Several of her clients are women with young children. ''A bald Barbie would be a useful tool more than anything else,'' she says. ''If it's another toy in the toy box, good, otherwise I don't know that they'd be that interested in playing with it.''

She's got a point. Bald Barbie isn't as glam as Big-hair Barbie in all its permutations and is therefore not as appealing to little girls. Let's face it, children go for the obvious. Maybe Bald Barbie doesn't deserve space on the toyshop shelf. Can bald be beautiful? Can hair loss be made less traumatic and confronting? How can you look good - and, more importantly, feel OK - if you've lost your hair through illness? Cancer has become almost mainstream - even Target has a mastectomy lingerie rack. Everyone knows someone or several someones who have had chemo. But is society - our Australian society - ready for bald beauty?

39 comments so far

  • I'm sorry but all I can think of looking at bald Barbie is crazy Britney when she shaved all her hair off in 2017.

    I can understand Mattell not wanting to make this the mainstream of their image for Barbie.

    I for one, completely support their position.

    Commenter
    Adrian
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 10:20AM
    • Adrian clearly you live in a very small, celebrity filled box.

      Unfortunately for many people (including myself) being bald is a part of life, either through cancer treatments or Alopecia.

      I have a daughter who is six years old who does not understand why her mummy is bald and the others aren't. For her to have a bald barbie would be an incredible thing - but as they are only going to be released through non-reatil charities the chances of receiving one are slim.

      I know many people who would purchase one for their child and not think of Brittany Spears but of everyday life.

      I hope that no-one you know and love is faced with losing their hair in the future as you clearly will not be able to cope with their devastating loss.

      Commenter
      Emma
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 11:52AM
    • Britney is going to shave her hair off in 2017?
      Thanks for the spoilers Adrian.

      Commenter
      Emily
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:04PM
    • Emma,

      I know how you feel, I lost my hair through cancer treatments and it was very difficult. I think bald Barbies are a brilliant idea! I remember being at a beach in the middle of summer and I didn't wear my wig and two gorgeous children with beautiful big smiles walked up to me and said "did you know you ain't got no hair?".

      There are so many women who are bald through a number of reasons and there needs to be better understanding of the reasons for baldness. But I have also seen many women who look stunning bald!

      Commenter
      Sharron
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:42PM
    • Hey Emma (and anyone else who thinks this is a good idea), why don't you just remove the hair off a "normal" Barbie and give that to your kid. It's possible and easy to do. We used to do it all the time as kids. It's not real hair with roots, it's just threaded through, it's easy to rip out.

      Commenter
      hairbrained
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 1:42PM
    • I am totally with you Emma, that is really shallow to say something like that Adrian. It is a big part of society now, cancer is on the rise therefore people that have baldness issues will be on the rise. I think they should go ahead with it to make a statement that they are supporting the people on this earth that are going through cancer problems.
      But alas Mattel will never do this due to their focus on the outward appearence being the only thing that matters...

      Commenter
      Kate
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:11PM
  • I can sympathise with your personal tragedy, yet still think you're a moron for expecting the world to change to accomodate your best interests. Mattel has done a good deed by manufacturing this doll and a making it available thorugh the appropriate channels - they certainly didn't have to. Why not celebrate what they've done rather than (quite stupidly) criticise them for not commercially producing a product most stores wouldn't be interested in stocking?

    Commenter
    DisDis
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 10:52AM
    • Completely agree - Mattell are a business, and have every right to go with the decisions that will profit their business. They make no claims to be anyone's moral compass or to operate in anyone's best interests, they are just putting out toys that children will want to buy. If children aren't clamouring for 'Bald Barbie' then so be it.

      Commenter
      Disgruntled Goat
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 12:14PM
    • I agree . (and thought of Britney too)
      Barbie is attractive. Bald gals arent, never was, never will.
      People will go to the well and pick Sinead OConner. That was 20 years ago and she was not bald, more like a number one (check it out) When I was bald from chemo, its completely different look to shaving your head (much more sickly).
      I would rather give my kids a doll with lots of hair and say this is how I will look when I am well again (mine would be a Ken)

      Commenter
      Average guy
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 2:08PM
  • To be fair, they would also have to release a big breasted Barbie, small breasted Barbie, facial birthmark Barbie, wheelchair Barbie, hammer-toe Barbie etc.

    Commenter
    Farcough
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 11:03AM

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