Bald Barbie is running rampant over my social media feeds this new year.
A movement is afoot to strong arm Mattel into mass producing their signature tart, Barbie, into a bald symbol of beauty for little girls with cancer and other health conditions that make their hair fall out feel "accepted and beautiful."
"Mattel should make a Barbie with no hair so that every little girl fighting cancer feels beautiful!! The wish for this petition is that the Barbie is also named Hope and a portion of proceeds from the sales of this Barbie go to St. Jude's Children's Hospital."
"Lets make every child fighting an illness that causes them to lose their hair feel special and beautiful-like the Barbies/Dolls they play with!"
"The goal of this "Barbie" is that all children know that bald is beautiful and deal with their own hair loss or a loved one's . The proceeds from this doll would go to a pediatric Cancer research facilit."
Imma about to step up on my soapbox, kids, so consider yourself warned.
Girls with cancer need a bald doll about as much as women with breast cancer need a pink Kitchen Aid mixer. The hard truth, and spoken with authority as the mom of a girl treated for cancer, is that girls with cancer do not need a bald Barbie. They do not need bald Disney princesses either. I have no doubt that there are psychosocial benefits to having a bald representation of yourself if you are a kid in the middle of cancer treatment. Our toddler daughter certainly preferred characters missing golden locks on top -- Charlie Brown and Caillou were favorites of hers. But need and want are at different ends of the spectrum.
You know what girls with cancer need? They need money. They need lots and lots and oodles and oodles of dollars for the researchers working on their behalf. Primarily, these researchers are attached to well established pediatric hospitals and universities, as pharmaceutical companies only minimally invest in pediatric cancer. You see, it is not in their financial interest. Stone cold truth, people. This network of hospitals is knows as "COG," the Children's Oncology Group.
"The Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a National Cancer Institute supported clinical trials group, is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The COG unites more than 7,500 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals, universities, and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe in the fight against childhood cancer."
What do Barbies run these days? $10? $20? I don't know, honestly. Full disclosure, I have never been a Barbie kind of girl, even as a child. They didn't float my boat, not then, not now. But that's beside my point. If you want to support children with cancer, and it is kids with cancer -- boys and girls are diagnosed at the rate of 46 every school day in America -- give that $10-$20 to a charity supporting and investing in new research for pediatric cancer.
Believe me when I say, from the bottom of my broken heart, that children with cancer could use the kind of money that Mattel takes in during a single holiday season spent on research much more than they can use dolls that resemble them in follicles only. Let's get real, okay? If we wanted our dolls to look like our girls -- if that is the premise behind the call for a bald Barbie -- said dolls would not be built like unattainable fantasies of what women should look like. Can I get a witness?
The only winner in the demand for a bald Barbie will be the marketers behind such a scheme. Supporters and petitioners can tell themselves that all "proceeds" will go to a worthy children's health related charity, but that will be but a mere pittance compared to the much bigger dollars that will go directly into the pockets of the manufacturers and marketers.
All that pink you see in October? A fraction of that is actually being delivered to researchers. Marketers and manufacturers trade on the knowledge that millions of women will pony up for pink merchandise and they laugh every step to the bank, counting their pink pennies all the way. If they see an opportunity, they will do the same with gold. For many in the pediatric cancer community, that would be a win -- making gold, the awareness color of pediatric cancer, as recognizable as pink. To me, that always seemed a hollow goal. Having major corporations raise awareness of pediatric cancer and the need to fund its research is A-OK in my book, but making a profit on that is not.
This opinion may not be popular in a host of circles, and that is okay with me. I speak with an awareness of what kids with cancer actually need and I would wish that knowledge on no one -- not the people who slam me for not being active enough in the pediatric cancer community, nor the people who slam me for championing pediatric cancer over breast cancer. As I say, you can't win for trying, but I will keep trying.
Kids with cancer need research more than they need a bald tart. That's right, Barbie, I called you a tart. What of it?
Oh, and if you are wanting to help those kids with cancer with those research $ they so desperately need, here are two organizations with excellent charity ratings that get the job done and don't make a profit at it: