Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bald & Beautiful

A few weeks ago a 'super' movement was created when several Moms of kids with cancer came up with the idea of the 'Bald & Beautiful' or 'Hope' Barbie.   When I first received the notice to 'Like' this page, there were about 1700 followers, it has now grown to over 130,000 in about 4 weeks.  The power of social media is incredible.  If you really know how to capitalize on the power of people through these streams you could be dangerous, or quite a force to be reckoned with as we seen over the last few days when the Public Relations Director of the American Cancer Society decided to share his sentiments in a blog on The ACS site.  The post has since been taken down but it suggested that childhood cancer is 'exceedingly rare' and stated in opinion, this may be a publicity stunt, as he also made a mockery of yet another cancer 'token'.  You can imagine the backlash from such an ill thought out statement affiliated with an organization such as ACS.  I'm thinking his days there are probably numbered or his job in that capacity will be reassessed.  There's also the idiotic self-professed comedian that did a very thoughtless and offensive take on the Cancer Awareness Doll.  She now wonders why she's receiving hate mail and threats.  I do not condone violence, but I think making fun of sick children to illicit laughter is stupid, and when you took the time to make that disgusting video you opened yourself up to more than simple scrutiny. 

The idea of the Barbie hit the scene back in mid-December.  Mattel, St. Judes, and Hasbro were contacted about making a Barbie with no hair so that every little girl fighting cancer or illness associated with hair loss feels beautiful.  The even grander idea was that proceeds would be donated to organizations that support families, research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other illnesses in likeness.  Pediatric Cancer is the number one killer of children.  Statistically 7 children die and 46 children are diagnosed with cancer daily....hardly 'rare' and unless you've been there, walked in the shoes of the many that have and are, those are not statements or the stance to take out loud. 

Mattel has presented one of these dolls to a little girl as a part of a wish granted by the 'Make A Wish Foundation'.  So we know it can be done.  I would love to see the creation and availability of this doll in the near future.  I understand not every little girl plays with Barbie dolls or is affected by this situation, but the awareness it generates is noteworthy.  There are so many girls dealing with treatment that involves chemotherapy or illnesses such as Alopecia or Trichotillomania that want to feel like they belong and are included.   How awesome would it be to have a doll that looks like you or that you can relate to? Perhaps she would have some really cool knit hats, scarves or wigs?  I mean we know that in Barbie's World, accessories are a must!

There are two sides to every story and movement.  Some will be for it and some will not, largely because they have not been personally affected, or lack an appreciation for the difference this could make. When Mireya lost her hair, it was definitely a big change.  Mireya and I had a deal that if she lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy, Mommy would also cut hers, so she was not alone, but we really didn't put a lot of emphasis on it.  It's hair it will grow back and you are beautiful regardless.  The flip side of that is out in public we encountered stares, finger pointing, straight up questions (mostly from kids) and she was mistaken for and called a little boy on at least two occasions that I can recall.  These were uncomfortable instances, but you keep it light and moving.  I realize that kids are curious especially with things they've not seen or been exposed to.  Even if a child is not inclined to purchase the Hope Barbie, perhaps just seeing it as they walk down the aisle in a store could initiate conversation within a household about hair loss and illness in kids.

A great example of this is, my children have been around and spent time with a loved one in a wheelchair.  To them a wheelchair is just 'regular'.  When they are out in public, it's completely normal to see someone in a wheelchair and have an exchange with them just as if they were walking on two feet.  I've seen children who may not have been exposed to someone with different physical needs or limitations or they don't understand 'how' or 'why' someone could be confined to a wheelchair and are in the 'OMGoodness Zone' when encountering a similar situation. I love that the children can relate to this and do not find it odd.  There was another instance when we were greeted by a gentleman in a wheelchair and they wanted to jump in his lap, but that is the comfort level and sense of ease they have with it.  The first time we saw someone with only one leg in a wheelchair required some additional discussions.  You can't sweep away a child's simple and authentic reaction, but you can try to bring awareness.  There were many times I'd wished Mireya didn't have to experience the stares or alarming attention in public.  If I'm not mistaken there is a Barbie in a wheelchair.  I mean Barbie can be all things, why not Bald and Beautiful. I showed Mireya this picture Paris sent me last month of all her favorite Disney Princesses.  She giggled uncontrollably and said 'they got their hair cut, just like me'. In that moment, she identified with a place she has been and it was so cool to her to see this picture of the Princesses she adores.  They were still beautiful and identifiable without their long tresses.

One of our very favorite friends is Little Ms. Emily Hubbel, she and Mireya met on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.  Emily was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma one year ago.  She and her family just returned to Richmond from CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) where they continue to seek the best level of care, programs and medical specialists for Emily. The Hubble family was interviewed this week about the Hope Barbie.  Take a look at the piece and please continue to keep Emily and her family in your prayers. 

Mattel is weighing the positives, negatives and marketing of a 'Bald & Beautiful' Barbie.  The decision to make the doll has yet to be determined.  Until a decision is made, we have the right to participate in the campaign to request it.  In turn, they also have a right to say no, but my hope is that they will decide to create this Barbie Doll.  It is a doll, but it represents so much more.  A doll that could make it easier to accept the reality of hair loss, a doll that could make a child feel better, happier and more beautiful.  A doll that could make a daughter not feel so bad about her mother's (or any close female family member) illness.  There are so many positives...and yes little boys have not been forgotten.  There has been a push mounting over the last few weeks for a bald GI Joe.  If you are in favor of Mattel making this doll and for the positive impact this could make for so many, please consider signing the petition by visiting

1 comment:

  1. Great cause. It is very rare that some one raise the type of issue that you have raided in this post. It is absolutely very unique idea and of course you should be appreciated with this effort.