Takedown: Bald Barbie

SusanPerspectives90 Comments

This week’s crapdate is showing up in a variety of ways, so here it is from a Facebook page created just to spread the message:

“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. 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 a long haired to a bald. Accessories such as scarves and hats could be included. This would be a great coping mechanism for young girls dealing with hair loss themselves or a loved one. We would love to see a portion of proceeds go to childhood cancer research and treatment. Let’s get Mattell’s attention!”

The short answer: “Another option would be to take that money that you probably won’t spend to get a bald Barbie, and instead donate it directly to support cancer research organizations. Cut out the middle man!”

This picture is floating around the internet, a photoshopped dream of a Bald Barbie. This one was found on the Facebook page "Mission: Mass Produce A Barbie For Cancer Patients, Mattel"

This crapdate didn’t bother me too much the first time I saw it. Or the second time. Now that I’ve seen it approximately four million times, it is annoying the crap out of me, for a variety of reasons, some stupid, some not stupid. Let’s start with the least consequential.

First: Is this crapdate really using “long haired” and “bald” as nouns? That just seems weird. If somebody were describing me and said, “Oh, she’s a medium haired,” I would feel weird. My eyebrows are knitted.

Second: As I said in the short update, why not just donate money that you might but probably won’t spend to buy a bald doll directly to the organization you are purporting to support? Oh, because that means you’d have to spend money, instead of just copying and pasting a status update. Slacktivism: for when you want to look like you give a shit about something ,but really can’t be bothered.

Third: Scarves and hats? Aren’t those used to”¦cover up the baldness? They should make a bald Barbie and then sell her with accessories so that she will be able to hide her shameful head? My eyebrows are still knitted.

Fourth: Can you not just shave a Barbie’s head to get the same effect? At this point, my eyebrows have practically knitted an entire sweater.

Fifth: Mattel already made a bald Barbie. This is on their radar, and “raising awareness” is not really necessary.

Sixth: Mattel has consistently ranked very high in their corporate responsibility efforts, currently sitting at #5 in the world. They partner with Playworks, UCLA Children’s Hospital, The Special Olympics, Save the Children, the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Trying to browbeat them into being a responsible corporation is like starting a campaign to get Starbucks to put caffeine in their coffee.

Seventh: Quick! Do a Google search! It turns out that there already are bald dolls on the market, and their proceeds benefit cancer patients. These are small companies whose founders were personally touched by cancer, and who have built a philanthropic business in an attempt to make the world a better place. You know how to stamp out those companies? Get a gigantic megacompany to take over their idea and mass produce it. More profits for the megacompany, less diversity on the market, and the loss of a heartfelt, solid product in favor of one hairless version of an extremely popular doll.

Finally, and most importantly: Okay, I get it. Some kids love Barbie, and some kids struggle with losing their hair, or watching their parent lose their hair. But (and this is where I really get angry about this crapdate): the vast majority of kids, with or without cancer, do not look like Barbie. Nor do their relatives.

In order to look like Barbie, the person in question would have to be 5’9″, with 39-18-33″ measurements. Barbie weighs 110 pounds, so her BMI is 16.24, and when the 1965 Slumber Party Barbie was introduced, she came with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight,” with short and simple directions: “Don’t eat.”

Considering that chemotherapy, which is to blame for the baldness of the patient, also causes a loss of appetite and nausea leading to weight loss, the fact that this doll chooses not to eat for superficial reasons is tactless, to say the least.

And sure, she’ll be bald. But she’ll also have big, blue wide-set eyes, light-colored and clear skin, a button nose, and perfectly symmetrical features. There are Barbies with other skin tones, but the projection of beauty is alarmingly narrow. Giving a child with cancer a Barbie doll that has no hair is sending a clear message: you have no hair, but you should still aspire to this kind of beauty.

I know that some kids adore Barbie, and she’s wildly popular. I have a feeling that my own daughter, once she discovers who Barbie is, will covet every incarnation of the doll, as well as every accessory ever made. This is one of those battles that I am prepared to fight. Barbie is a small yet constant reminder that adult women should look a certain, unrealistic way.

Shaving a Barbie’s head does not make her resemble a cancer patient. Instead, Bald Barbie looks like Barbie, with no hair. A beautiful, white, incredibly thin woman with large breasts and narrow hips, forever in high heels, smiling and made up meticulously. Do we really want to send this type of message to little girls who are already fighting cancer? Sure, you may beat cancer, but unless you look like this, you can never truly be a woman. Here’s a bald example, just to make sure you know once you stop worrying about cancer, you can get back to worrying about how “ugly” you are.

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Susan

I am old and wise.Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.
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SusanTakedown: Bald Barbie

90 Comments on “Takedown: Bald Barbie”

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  1. Profile photo of Jackie
    Jackie

    The thing that confuses me the most in this whole thing is that Barbie is clearly an aspirational/fantasy toy. Barbie has crazy inhumanly sexy proportions.  Barbie has a hunky boyfriend and/or sexy girlfriends who happen to be her exact same size so they can share clothes.  Barbie is an architect and a rock star and a mermaid and a doctor and a princess and a ballerina and an artist and she lives in a dream house and spends all day shopping and going to the beach.  These are not real things that little girls are and do.  These are things that little girls fantasize about doing when they grow up. Do we really expect that little girls (with  or without cancer) are dreaming about growing up to be women who still have cancer?  No.  Cancer Barbie makes no sense in the same way that homeless Barbie makes no sense.

  2. Profile photo of Luci Furious
    Luci Furious

    One of the major problems I have with this “movement” is the line “so that every girl with cancer can feel beautiful.”  I guess I just don’t understand how a girl with cancer is going to be like, man I feel real bad about losing all my hair to this chemo, sure feel ugly….oh wait! what’s this? a bald Barbie! Neat! Now I KNOW I’m beautiful!

    I guess that’s really more of a larger problem I have with this concept that girls need to feel pretty because they look at Barbie, or that all little girls want to look like Barbie.  First of all, I don’t understand that from my personal perspective. I never thought that I looked like Barbie, that Barbie’s existence made me pretty, or that when I grew up I would look like Barbie.  I know there are girls who did, and I don’t know if my experience is less common. But yeah, I just don’t get it.

     

  3. Profile photo of Zeppogirl
    Zeppogirl

    I’m a cancer survivor but I wouldn’t begin to speak on behalf of an entire community of people.  It’s a big, diverse group of people with varying opinions.  As a boob cancer survivor, I bristle at this sentence: “many children have some difficulty accepting their mother, sister, aunt, grandparent or friend going from a long haired to a bald.”  First of all, I wasn’t a Bald.  I went bald from chemo.  Who talks like that?  Also, if children are having a difficult time accepting someone else’s baldness, shouldn’t you talk to the child and try to explain what’s going on?  I don’t have kids, so I can’t talk about this from the perspective of a parent.  I will say that my brother and SIL explained to my young nieces about why Aunt Lara was bald.  They said, “She was sick.  She has cancer.  The medicine that’s going to make her better caused her hair to fall out.”   These little girls didn’t recoil in horror at the sight of my bald head.   I don’t understand why a child would have a hard time accepting a relative’s baldness.

    I agree with Susan wholeheartedly.  (It’s always handy when you read the actual article.)  A bald Barbie is just Barbie without hair.  She’s not a Cancer Barbie.  She’s that doll I had after I cut off all her hair.  If you want to help young girls with cancer, then I don’t feel giving them a bald Barbie doll teaches them they’re beautiful.  Hanging out with them, playing with them, talking to them.  Tell them their smile lights up the room.  Help out a cancer patient’s family with stuff around the house because cancer is so time-consuming.   These kids and patients aren’t always going to be bald (alopecia – another story, but don’t individuals with alopecia typically wear wigs?).  They’ll always remember how people behaved and acted around them.

  4. Profile photo of [E] Rachel
    [E] Rachel

    I think it would be great if everyone who is so outraged would take a quick minute to actually read the post. No one here is saying that kids with cancer don’t deserve funding, or increased self-esteem, or “awareness” and support. It is saying that this particular method of doing those things is not effective.

    It would be so much more effective if people would take action beyond mindlessly clicking Facebook buttons in order to raise awareness and, more importantly, funding for cancers in more tangible ways. A donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or the Mayo Clinic would benefit children with cancer so much more. Urging Mattel to make a donation directly to children’s cancer charities (which, as stated in the post, they already do) would be a far more helpful way for people to get involved, rather than urging them to make a doll that still promotes typical and unattainable standards of beauty, just without hair.

    Read. The. Post.

      1. Profile photo of [E] Rachel
        [E] Rachel

        Oh, I did, thanks! The link is right there in the first sentence of the post! You might have better luck getting Mattel’s attention if you spell their company’s name correctly, just as a helpful suggestion. And it would be a shame if they diverted some of the $25 million they spend funding the Mattel Children’s Hospital to produce this doll so that maybe a portion of the proceeds of an unknown number of units sold would go to… sick children?

  5. Profile photo of
    Wendy Tarlow

    I do have cancer and would buy a ton of these dolls. I also raise and donate plenty of money towards cancer research. I also hit my share button but far from being done mindlessly. You are helping our campaign, so I thank you for that. There is something called viral momentum and the more this mentioned negatively or positively the better. I do love what all of the professionals are stating in some of the more objective articles. There is a lot of support for this. I also read the page http:/www.facebook.com/BeautifulandBaldBarbie and the outpouring of support is from either children with cancer or their relatives. The children in the hospitals are reading this and posting through their own Facebook support pages.

    Thank you again,

    Wendy Tarlow

    1. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      Of course you read the facebook page! You are the owner!

      You don’t have to agree with me, and you clearly do not – my opinion is that it is not a very effective campaign, and it is sending quite the wrong message. There are far more ways of being beautiful than looking like Barbie, bald or not. And, other bald dolls exist. And, Mattel already gives a lot of money to charity. And and and and and.

      1. Profile photo of
        Wendy Tarlow

        you are missing the point Susan. I joined up with the women who started the page because it touched me. In all of the cancer advocacy work that I do when I’m not in bed, this is one that feels good and is making a lot of children, yes, with no hair, smile! I read the page because it gives me hope. And I’m involved with it for the same reason. My whole life changed when I got cancer. My son was 3 months old and I fight like crazy. Maybe you need to read the page. I don’t fault you for your opinion. I agree that it would be wonderful if Mattel or any other company opened their wallets and just gave to some reputable charities but while they are in the business of making toys and dolls what is it going to hurt if they make one for kids who have lost their hair. Businesses profit and it sure isn’t going to hurt our economy for these companies to continue to profit.

        1. Profile photo of Susan
          Susan

          The hurt is the same hurt with many of these viral status updates (which is the goal, right?). It gives the person who re-posts it the chance to feel like, by re-posting, they’ve actually made their contribution. That by “liking” a Facebook page about a bald Barbie, and posting the information, they can then walk away and consider their “awareness raising” done for the afternoon. Even if they *do* buy the imaginary dolls once they are made, it is still mis-placed energy. Let’s imagine, for a minute, that it costs $16 to make a limited edition doll (because of limited demand). And it sells for $20. At best, the person who bought the doll, which promotes awful ideas about what it means to be beautiful and what it means to be a woman, spent $20 for $4 to go to support the cause. At best. Instead of all of those people “liking” the Facebook page, why not ask them to simply make $20 donations? That would go much farther, and it wouldn’t be pushing unattainable standards of beauty onto kids who are already struggling.

          1. Profile photo of Tashi
            Tashi

            I have to fully agree with Susan here- as a (non-serious, early detected) cancer patient myself and the caregiver of a young terminal man with grade 4 brain cancer, these status posts DO hurt- we see them on our Facebook walls or are linked to them with the idea that it will make us “smile”- giving Hope to those with cancer does make us smile, but asking a company that already does SO much for the children’s and cancer community for more almost as a token “look what we have now” is a empty or token gesture.

            It does not SOLVE cancer. It does not provide a place for families to stay while their children undergo treatment- they ALREADY do that. This is just… a token.

            My husband will not see a cure for his cancer in his very very short lifetime. That’s fact. Neither of us wants “gestures”, we want research done, we want provisions made to laws to make life better and easier for those to come after until some cure can be made- if ever.

            A status update/market early state campaign (do you even have non-profit status set yet?) is not a way to spread a “hopeful” message, at least not to us personally. (We do not speak for everyone who has cancer, or every terminal cancer patient. Just our own experiences.)

             

        2. Profile photo of Stephanie
          Stephanie

          Read the article, Wendy, and you would see Mattel already does more than “open their wallets” for reputable charities. They are heavily involved in and donate a whole freaking lot of money to the Make-A-Wish foundation, several other foundations that support children with disabilities or chronic illness, and they fund a children’s hospital for children who have cancer. In fact, it is CALLED the Mattel Children’s Hospital. Now you tell me, what ELSE do you want them to do to be more supportive of children with cancer? You tell me.

            1. Profile photo of Stephanie
              Stephanie

              Oh yes, create a doll that perpetuates harmful stereotypes about women for little girls. Just because you’re bald doesn’t mean you can’t be beautiful! Oh wait, except you don’t have perfect features, and wide, blue eyes, and lily-white, smooth skin? Well shit, kid, you’re out of luck; you may be bald, but at least hair can grow back. You’ll be ugly forever! Because obviously Barbie is what beautiful women look like. Not your mom or grandmother or your doctors or hospital staff.

              And fuck the little boys with cancer, they’re manly manly boys who don’t cry or get scared of cancer, they don’t need anything to comfort them.

              You are so short-sighted I cannot believe you can even see what you’re typing.

              1. Profile photo of
                Wendy Tarlow

                There is a Bald GI Joe movement that is run by some of the same admins. Love your name calling. Why, because I don’t agree with you. Have I insulted you because this makes me and thousands of others feel good?

                1. Profile photo of Stephanie
                  Stephanie

                  I didn’t call you any names, I said you are short-sighted, and that is exactly what you are. Your “feel-good” movement perpetuates harm and erases the experience of all those who cannot look like Barbie.

                  1. Profile photo of
                    Wendy Tarlow

                    I don’t look like a Barbie or a GI Joe but I certainly liked playing with them when I was younger and so does my child who looks nothing like them. I don’t look like raggedy Anne either.

            2. Profile photo of [E]queSarahSarah
              [E]queSarahSarah

              There’s a link is the article that shows that they already have made the doll. And from what I understand, Mattel and other toy companies like Fisher-Price donate tons of toys children’s hospitals in addition to the monetary donations they make.

            3. Profile photo of peashelle
              peashelle

              Wendy, why are you so fixated on the doll, in light of all the other amazing things Mattel is doing to help those children with cancer? Why are you so focused on Mattel? Why not ask the makers of the “Life” board game to include pediatric cancer life events? Why not get the “Operation” game to include lymph node removal?

              What I’m getting at is this: Mattel is doing REAL things to help children with cancer. Things that include ACTUAL MEDICAL CARE. Why is this doll more important than any of that?

              For the record, my sister is a breast cancer survivor, a mother of two children, and a third grade teacher. She continued to teach throughout her treatment, and her children and her students handled her baldness, and other side effects, beautifully. The key to this was honest and open communication, which is what kids in these situations need most of all.

                1. Profile photo of
                  Wendy Tarlow

                  little kids going through these ordeals are asking for this. If you really read our page you would see that. We are not just asking Mattel. We have brought our request Not demand to many other doll companies. Someone will do this and I hope that I get to hand out some of the dolls in the cancer wards when they come out. This doll isn’t more important than any other effort that is out there to raise awareness. It is what I want to be involved in. It makes me feel good and obviously for our page to grow so quickly with such wonderfully generous comments, it’s what these people want to focus their energy on as well. Who are you to judge? What are you doing besides bashing a campaign? Create an operation game if it makes you happy. But you don’t remove lymph nodes to cure lymphoma, do you? That is strictly for diagnostic purposes. Leave it alone already and focus your energy on something that makes you happy. That’s what I’m doing. Not sure why I’m getting caught up with your “short sighted” attitudes.

                  1. Profile photo of peashelle
                    peashelle

                    I wasn’t bashing, I was asking, and I’m glad that it makes you feel good to do something. Cancer is a terrible, frightening thing for anyone to deal with, and it’s important to be able to do something that gives a bit of control; I’m happy for you that you’ve found what works for you.

                    I have to add, that while it’s true that the removal of the lymph nodes in the case of breast cancer does not cure anything, it does gives the doctor more precise information regarding the progress of the disease, and it does have lifelong consequences for those who undergo it.

                    I do hope the future includes much health and happiness for you and yours.

                  2. Profile photo of Zeppogirl
                    Zeppogirl

                    I was a little girl with a mother going through breast cancer.  It’s rough, awful, but it’s not an ordeal.  You know what made me feel better when my mom was sick and bald?  Having as normal life as I could, which included – oh my god, normal non-bald dolls, and the support of my friends and church members.  Don’t presume to speak for all cancer patients and their family members.

                     

                  3. Profile photo of Susan
                    Susan

                    The dolls already exist.  If it’s not important that they come from Mattel…they are already on the market. It’s not about bashing a movement, it’s about trying to figure out how best to devote energy.  If you don’t care about which doll it is, they already exist.

            4. Profile photo of Monica
              Monica

              I find it really hard to believe that Mattel is going to mass produce a cancer Barbie when they’ve never produced a Barbie that had realistic proportions or looks, even though women have been saying for years that Barbie dolls have been sending harmful and unrealistic messages to girls.

              While they give a lot of money to charitable organizations (for example, the ones stated in the article), they are first a business. I don’t doubt that people would buy a cancer Barbie, yet I feel that the amount would be minimal and might not even worth it (to the corporation) to produce them. It makes far more sense to give the money to charities and research directly.

  6. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
    [E] Selena MacIntosh*

    While I agree that FB liking something isn’t the same, or in the same ballpark, as actual action or activism, I can’t say I wouldn’t be tickled if Mattel took any kind of turn towards creating a more inclusive line of dolls.

    Mattel has never done anything more than token gestures of representing anything other than pretty, perky white girls with impossible figures. The handful of Black, Latina and Asian dolls look like they were made in the same Barbie mold, with different shades of plastic. Like it or not, Mattel has a stranglehold on the fashion doll racket, if this campaign helps them recognize that doing right by all little girls everywhere and making money don’t have to be mutually exclusive, all the better.

    1. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      I guess we feel the same, but with different manifestations.  I think that to create a bald doll with the same features just plays into the “this is what beauty should be” instead of challenging it.  Were they to introduce an entire line of differently-abled people, or differently-beautiful, I think that would be awesome.

      And the campaign seems to be aimed at buying into this kind of beauty.  Talks about how little girls can “still be princesses” even if they are bald basically boil down to “the hair isn’t what makes this doll pretty, it’s all of the other impossible features.”

      1. Profile photo of Tashi
        Tashi

        Also, is this Barbie suffering from an internal organ cancer? As far as I can tell, there’s no visible radiation burns on this Barbie, or biopsy scars, or even scars from surgeries in general (which I do believe a lot of cancer patients have at least one of). What kind of model is this really for children with cancer? Does she come with a wheelchair for the chemo or fatigue days? The more I think about this the more it seems to me to just trivialize all the patients and their families go through.

        1. Profile photo of Stephanie
          Stephanie

          All questions I wanted to ask. I know cancer patients are capable of dressing up in fancy dresses and having days where they look healthy and feel fine, but I just don’t think this doll is anywhere near representative of what these kids are going through. Where is her hospital bed? Is Doctor Barbie going to give her an MRI? Does the accessory kit come with pill bottles? Does she have an alternate gown outfit for when she’s at the hospital? Where are the dark circles from chemo? Why does she have eyelashes and eyebrows?

          1. Profile photo of Tashi
            Tashi

            Adding to the list; does she have a central port, or alternatively does she have mastectomy scars? Does she come with a wheelchair for chemo or radiation days/fatigue hits? Will she have a little booklet “How to deal with Insurance Issues”? A flyer for “Local Cancer Support Group” for Barbies?

  7. Profile photo of QoB
    QoB

    I’m going to mildly object to the term ‘slacktivism': the research we have on people who support causes online in non-financial ways (like status updates, signing petitions, etc.) indicates that they also tend to support their causes in financial and physical ways as well.

    However, I do agree that the nebulous idea of ‘Do X to raise awareness’ can be really misleading and fake – right now I’m getting lots of chain emails about some bullshit ‘breast cancer awareness’ ‘secret’ status update bollocks. What are these things intended to raise awareness of? That breast cancer exists? That children get cancer?? It’d be difficult not to be aware of that.

    Tell me something more: the risk factors, the signs and symptoms, the survival rates; tell me what children and families need to get through cancer treatment and to recover; tell me about the need for specialist children’s palliative care centres and play therapists; anything but ‘awareness’ unconnected to any actual information or fundraising.

    1. Profile photo of Michelle Miller
      Michelle Miller

      The survival rates and the needs of the children and families undergoing this experience seem most useful to me. I feel like, if people know HOW and WHAT to do that  would be most useful, then they would generally feel more inclined to do so.

      Not research-based, this opinion of mine, but a general sense.

    2. Profile photo of CijiTheGeek
      CijiTheGeek

       the research we have on people who support causes online in non-financial ways (like status updates, signing petitions, etc.) indicates that they also tend to support their causes in financial and physical ways as well.

      [citation needed]

      1. Profile photo of QoB
        QoB

        It’s midnight where I am so I’m not going to go searching for it right now, as I prefer to sleep. If I have a chance tomorrow I will post links, but I asserted that because it’s (part of) my job to be aware of research like this.

    3. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      This is interesting – I *do* tend to use “slacktivism” flippantly, but I also don’t use it to refer to people who are doing more than copying and pasting, if that makes any sense.  Lots and lots and lots of people post articles on my feed about different happenings, often newspaper articles or opinion polls or pictures of protestors or whatever.  That, to me, is an entirely different beast than the “repost this if you aren’t ashamed!” kind of update.

      But thank you for making me think about it more, because I needed to.

    4. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      If you have time, would you mind sending me links/citations for the info?  Not out of an “I don’t believe you” spirit, but because all of the information that I have found is either in the very early stages (so abstracts and hypotheses with no conclusions), or very hypothetical, or not specific enough (to me, “copy and repost if you aren’t ashamed” is wildly different from what happened in the Arab Spring), or doesn’t tease out causation and correlation (I’m not sure how important that is in these cases – if there is a correlation between this action and real activism, maybe that’s enough?  But then maybe it’s just wasted effort if the people would be doing it anyway).  I’m SUPER interested, and I obviously have my own opinions, but I would love links to studies and research, if you don’t mind digging them up for me.

      1. Profile photo of QoB
        QoB

        This was the one I had in mind: with a blog summary here. You might also have luck checking out Blackbaud‘s research.

        You’re right in that research about this phenomenon (and it’s quite broad) is at a pretty early stage: nonprofit research is lacking in strictly academic settings; academia moves slowly in any case; and the Arab Spring, for example, is a relatively recent thing, and academic research tends to focus more on the psychology of philanthropy than stats, but I hope you find them useful.

         

        1. Profile photo of Susan
          Susan

          So I read the articles over, and I’m interested in your take on them.  I guess I still believe in “slacktivism” – but a narrower view of it than what apparently counts in the research.  What struck me was the conclusion at the end:  “Consider cause involvement as a strategy to foster behavior change” – which is, to me, the major difference.  Something which you repost because you are hoping to sway opinions, get people to vote, get people to donate money seems to be an effective use of social media.  Something in which you repost to try to convince a company to do something, with no change in behavior required by the people, feels like more of an empty gesture.  What do you think?

          1. Profile photo of QoB
            QoB

            I think there isn’t an agreed idea of what ‘slactivism’ is. For some people it’s any promotion of activist causes online without money being donated or solicited (these same people tend to say ‘social media’ in the tone of voice you’d reserve for ‘eww, cooties’); you’ve posited another, better, narrower, definition here, and I’d have another one that I don’t have in a quick sentence, but;-

            My (working) definition of ‘slacktivism’ is online activity that’s (a) unrelated to a specific target (which could be money raised, signatories on a petition, participants in an event, X number of people informed about Y healthcare initiative) and (b) not clearly associated with a nonprofit/activist group. Hence, ‘breast cancer awareness’ status updates like last year’s “I like to do it under my chair!” are slacktivism, because (a) there was never any coherent goal attached to it, and (b) no breast cancer charity would be seen to be associated with it.  By my definition (which could be entirely idiosyncratic!) this ‘make Mattel make a bald Barbie’ campaign may only be half ‘slacktivism’ – though it is, I think, ill-advised and counter-productive and unlikely to succeed in its badly-defined goals.

  8. Profile photo of charity
    charity

    first of all i think you are a nasty pig and you dont get it! my cousin is 12 years old and battling cancer and she would love a barbie that represents her and other children with cancer! you disgust me and i hope if you have a daughter or ever do that she never has to suffer from such an aweful disease! what would you do if your child had cancer and wanted a bald barbie cuz it kinda looks like her? lots of doll companies make dolls that look like a particular hair color, ethnicity, ect. look at american girl dolls. and seriously how hard would it be for matel to make a doll with no hair for those who would buy them? they are making a  kim kardashian doll and as we can see she doesnt fit the barbie mold! so if your gonna open your piggy mouth then know what the hell your talking about you nasy disgusting heartless excuse for a person!!!!!!

    1. Profile photo of Michelle Miller
      Michelle Miller

      Look, you are certainly free to disagree. In fact, you are welcome to disagree because that is how we get to the heart of a matter. But ’round these parts, we rely on the strength of our arguments and ideas to disagree with a point, not an excessive use of exclamation points and schoolyard (at best) insults.

      May I suggest a quick review of our commenting guidelines and a perusal of an article like this one: How to Disagree and Persuade without Offending.

    2. Profile photo of [E] Hillary
      [E] Hillary

      Did you even read the article? It’s fine if kids want bald dolls, but there are others out there. If you look at Mattel’s facebook wall it’s covered in variations of the crapdate, all shaming the company for not caring about kids with cancer, when they support numerous hospitals and other medical charities as listed in the article above. And thankfully there isn’t just a huge number of kids with cancer, even less when you narrow it down to the age range that actually plays with Barbies. The production costs would be higher than they’d ever recoup unless the doll were pretty expensive, and even then stores probably wouldn’t place huge orders because it wouldn’t sell well, and families dealing with childhood cancer have more important things to spend money one.

      And what about boys with cancer? I never see any facebook awareness campaigns that mention supporting boys with cancer. Is it because boys usually have shorter hair anyway, or because we think they don’t care about the change in their appearance?

        1. Profile photo of [E] Hillary
          [E] Hillary

          G.I. Joe is already essentially bald; most versions have a buzz cut. Lots of parents these days don’t want their kids playing with militaristic toys, so it’s really not the best choice either. Hasbro, GI Joe’s manufacturer, donates millions of dollars to a variety of charities and children’s hospitals around the world, which is a more effective use of money than manufacturing a new version that would look exactly the same.

  9. Profile photo of beckie
    beckie

    I am going to reply to your “crapdate” as politely as possible. The most important being do we really need to raise awareness? YES! Childhood cancer is one of the least funded cancers. Also, it receives much less funding than most other health issues affecting children. The other “can’t we just shave the head”. If you had bothered to look at the page then you would see that clearly you cannot. As for scarves and hats.. being a bad thing. My kid is bald, my kid loves hats, scarves, headbands and temporary tattoos. Pretty much anything she can put on her head she does. We do fundraising regularly for organizations supporting cancer research, and other causes close to our heart such as Ronald McDonald house.  So while you may see no need because there are enough bald dolls out there, other cancer patients may not feel the same way. Also if you research those bald dolls you speak of are usually some sort of plush or baby doll type doll. It is not a bald fashion doll. Oh and by the way her hair is growing back, and she plans on shaving it to raise even more money than we already have for St. Baldricks.

    1. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      Did I say that awareness didn’t need to be raised?  And one of the “least funded cancers” is not actually a good way to look at it: pediatric cancers make up about 1% of new cancers total, and yet 3% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to pediatric cancer.  If anything, there is too much awareness, compared to the other cancers.

      http://www.rescueroman.org/aboutneuroblastoma.html

      I did look at the page, although I haven’t been monitoring it closely, so I did not see the bit about shaving a Barbie.  Kids that go through chemo are not going to have smooth, clear, even-toned heads either.

      I’m glad to hear that your daughter is healing, and that you continue to raise money for the cause.  My opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it, is that this is not an efficient way to raise money (as opposed to just giving the money directly, where there wouldn’t be production costs), and it is a really bad message to send to kids in terms of what it means to be beautiful.

       

      1. Profile photo of beckie
        beckie

        Okay just so you know I would love if everyone would just shell out randomly 20 dollars from the bottom of their heart for a cause. Point blank that isn’t gonna happen usually. Secondly it is not just about the money I would love to see baldness seen more mainstream and maybe this would help it along. Actually most kids I have ever seen going through chemo have great heads, maybe god gave them great heads to rock ;)      I will let you pretend childhood cancer is overly funded or that there is too much awareness. That is why when most people started this movement they were asking her to be put in pink, right?

        1. Profile photo of Susan
          Susan

          I think you missed my point.  The point is not that there is too much awareness, or too much funding.  The statistics that I put forth were in response to your assertion that childhood cancers receive the least amount of funding – there is a reason for that, and that is because they are the least prevalent.  If we are looking for parity, it would make sense to raise awareness of *other* types of cancer, because *they* are facing a deficit.  By your reasoning.

          If people are willing to shell out 20 dollars for a hairless Barbie, it’s not a stretch to think that they would shell out 20 dollars to go directly to a cause.  But most people who like the Facebook page and who pass on the status update are not going to shell out 20 bucks for the cause.  Or for a bald Barbie.

        2. Profile photo of CijiTheGeek
          CijiTheGeek

          Actually most kids I have ever seen going through chemo have great heads, maybe god gave them great heads to rock ;)

          Wait… what?  So because God gave them “great heads”…. it’s good they have cancer….? to show them off?

          [side-eye.gif]

    2. Profile photo of Stephanie
      Stephanie

      This isn’t just about the doll, it’s also about the fact people want to “raise awareness” and “cure cancer” by clicking “Share” on Facebook as they mindlessly scroll through their newsfeed. Sharing these status updates isn’t providing funding to researchers, and it’s not making little kids feel better. Children in hospitals don’t know people are sharing this status around. If someone wants to make kids with cancer feel better, he or she should volunteer to go to the children hospitals and play with them.

      1. Profile photo of beckie
        beckie

        Just so you know every time anyone clicks like on our page, I am donating 1 cent per like to research. While this may not be a large amount. I spent 6 months out of work taking care of my own child dealing with cancer, so clicking the like button in this case is providing funding:) I will probably have to put a cap on it eventually as I do not have bottomless pockets.

        1. Profile photo of [E] Hillary
          [E] Hillary

          That’s a noble gesture, and I applaud you for at least making an effort, but the page is currently at 7,230 likes. $72.30 isn’t a whole lot of money raised considering the thousands of people who have shared the post and then gone about their day having made zero other contribution. Shaming a company that donates millions of dollars in order to raise less than a hundred isn’t very effective.

          1. Profile photo of
            Wendy Tarlow

            How do you know that this page isn’t getting people to think about cancer, cancer research or to get involved with advocacy and fundraising.

  10. Profile photo of LittleOrangeElephant
    LittleOrangeElephant

    This! This. A thousand times this. I’ve been seeing these updates for the last couple weeks – and instead of just being annoying updates that I roll my eyes at and skip past I have people (including my mom) tagging me in them because I’m currently ‘battling’ (ugh I hate that word) cancer and they want to ‘support’ me. I’ve been trying to figure out why it bugs me so much to see these Barbie updates so thanks for putting it so nicely and doing the research. I know I’m supposed to be gracious and grateful that people are thinking about me as I go through this fucking nightmare but a bald Barbie fb update ragefest? C’mon. It’s not helping – just making me feel awkward as I have to hit the ‘like’ button so as not to offend. Thank you for writing this.

    1. Profile photo of Stephanie
      Stephanie

      I’d start replying with this post. If they want to help and be supportive, they can come clean your house after treatments or stock your refrigerator with meals for when you’re too exhausted or offer to drive you to the doctor, or hell, just come to your house to hang out when you’re feeling down. You know, actually DO something, other than sit on their ass on facebook and hit “Share.” Slacktivism like this is just offensive.

      Although now that I’ve said this, you probably wouldn’t want to share this post, because they’ll probably read the comments, haha.

    2. Profile photo of Susan
      Susan

      Thank you for commenting. I got a little shiver-y reading your comment. I know why it pisses ME off, but not having cancer, I can only imagine the rage I would feel if it were being shoved in my face as I tried to concentrate on, you know, healing.

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