Apr 11 2012
A Facebook petition signed by more than 157,000 people has prompted the Mattel company to create a new Barbie doll in the likeness of a cancer victim. According toNews.com.au, the bald-headed doll, which will be dubbed “a friend of Barbie,” is set to be released in 2013, and will come with an assortment of head dressings and clothing commonly worn by real-life female cancer victims.
Cancer rates are apparently skyrocketing so much in the U.S. today — even among children — that certain individuals feel Mattel should release a cancer-stricken Barbie doll for children in order to keep up with this disastrous trend. These individuals, in other words, appear to fully endorse the bizarre materialization of one of America’s most deadly conditions into a children’s toy.
“We would like to see a Beautiful and Bald Barbie made to help young girls who suffer from hair loss due to cancer treatments, alopecia or trichotillomania,” says a petition written to Mattel byBeautiful and Bald Barbie, the Facebook group that first promoted the idea. “Also, for young girls who are having trouble coping with their mother’s hair loss from chemo. Many children have some difficulty accepting their mother, sister, aunt, grandparent or friend going from long-haired to bald.”
Mattel says it will not actually sell the “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” in retail stores, but rather it will distribute it to children with cancer in hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Some of the cancer dolls will also reportedly be offered to charity partners on other continents as well, as an act of goodwill towards those suffering from cancer globally.
You can see a rendering of cancer Barbie at:
As generous and well-meaning as this initiative is, one cannot help but notice the disturbing symbolic implications of a Barbie doll with cancer. Since Barbies were originally created as a fashion doll for young girls to relate to, the concept of a Barbie doll with cancer not only shows just how prevalent this horrible disease has become, but also how cancer is becoming typecasted as commonplace and fashionable.
In the same way that creating an obese Barbie or a Barbie with leprosy, for instance, would be a morbid venture, creating a Barbie with cancer only helps to normalize a devastating condition that is largely avoidable and treatable outside the conventional medical paradigm. Rather than attempt to turn cancer into a type of cultural paragon, perhaps the “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” group, as well as Mattel, could funnel their well-intentioned efforts into promoting cancer prevention and alternative cancer treatments.