Takedown Take Two: Bald Barbie Returns

Whoo boy. Since my last Takedown, the “Bald Barbie movement” exploded, with the story being broadcast worldwide and 110,000 more people jumping on the bandwagon and liking the Facebook page.

Let me get this out right from the start: I don’t hate kids with cancer. I am not, contrary to some of the comments made on my last article, a disgusting heartless pig. And yes, I’ve been touched by cancer. We all have, almost certainly, which is one of the reasons why this movement is so offensive to me: it’s a big deal, and it’s a waste of time and energy, and it is harmful to kids who really don’t need to be beaten with the beauty-expectations stick.

I’m not going to get into a touched-by-cancer competition, with the winner being the person with the most horrific story. All that does is detract from the real arguments, and cloud what is actually a very straightforward situation.

Apparently, Barbie should stand for "Bald and Really Beautiful is Extraordinary."

Since my article, a few things about the movement have become more apparent, and so I’m returning to address them:

1) Anybody who voices criticism of the movement is immediately vilified. Check out the Facebook page, and you will almost certainly see it happen firsthand within a few minutes (depending, of course, on how quickly the wall is moving).

As an adult person, I have never been called the names that were slung at me for my article. It’s not just me, though. One person suggested that there were more important things to focus on than putting together a protest. This woman had been posting positive remarks about the movement in general and simply disagreed with the idea of a protest.

This disagreement was seen as a complete inability to empathize with people for whom the woman had come to the page to support. The recipient of the response above posted this in response to somebody who thought it would be a good idea to create a Barbie who had had a mastectomy:

Another woman said she was going to “unlike” the page as it was clogging up her news feed. She was lambasted for not being a “true supporter” and somebody suggested that maybe someday her kids would get cancer so she would know what it was like. For wanting to unlike a Facebook page.

Any movement that requires blind, unquestioning support raises warning flags. There is no way to support the idea while offering constructive criticism; there is no way to improve upon the idea set out from the get-go, regardless of how the situation may change. This is an interesting phenomenon, given that the entire movement is based upon trying to change a business plan of a company to which they have no ties. It is a movement trying to change a company by using constructive criticism, while being unable to accept any criticism itself.

Which brings me to:

2) This “movement” was fuzzy in nature when it had 3,000 Facebook fans, and it has gained exactly zero cohesiveness with the other 110,000 likes. The info is the same, although they did go back and spell Mattel correctly (but did not change the usage of “bald” as a noun). The Barbie is supposed 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.” So, the mission of the doll would be to help girls to understand adults who have lost hair from chemo, but no other reason, but if the young girls themselves are sick, it could be chemo, Alopecia, or Trichotillomania. This type of inconsistency should be caught in the planning stages, but it remains.

It actually seems like the different types of hair loss were added as a hasty afterthought when the page was being made, so as to be as inclusive as possible (for the girls, although not the adults in their lives). The entire focus of the movement is on funding research for childhood cancers (and no other hair loss problems), and it looks like the other types of hair loss were just used as an added bonus (again, for the girls, but not the adults). The language being used in the information is cluttered and inconsistent. The punctuation is messy, and it reads like something that was thrown together at the end of a long day. And maybe after some drinks.

The formatting of the language might seem like no big deal, but when you have 113,000 people demanding some sort of change, somebody should be responsible for making it look professional. And the hedging about the goals (“could be included,” “we would love to see,” etc.) makes it feel like nobody actually knows what they really want.

Perhaps as a result of that, the people who are “liking” the page all come to it with different ideas about what they are “liking.” “They should donate the proceeds to help kids with cancer!” they say, as if that isn’t one of the main (and only clear) tenets. “They should also include Trichotillomania!” even though it is, inexplicably, already included. “They should give scarves and hats to accessorize!” as though the information page doesn’t already suggest that. But there are other suggestions. “What about Ken?” and, “They should have different skin tones!” and, “They should ask the American Girl doll manufacturers to do it!” and, “I can’t believe nobody is doing this, if Mattel isn’t doing this, somebody should step up!” (as if nobody is doing it, when, actually, there already are these dolls on the market, made by small non-profits).

There are more than 113,000 people, with more than 113,000 thoughts about what they are supporting.

The only thing that is unanimous is, “If you agree with this page, you hate cancer, and if you disagree, you are a heartless disgusting pig.”

Which brings me to:

3) Protest. The administrators disagree with boycotts and protests, although many, many “likers” have called for one or joined up with one they thought was being undertaken (see point 2, above). A third party organized a protest on their behalf, which they co-signed, and then explained that it wasn’t a protest, but a “gathering of support.” A gathering of support intended to protest a decision by a megacompany.

That is to say: when I first saw the protest being advertised on the wall, the admins agreed that they were in support of a gathering.  Such posts have since been removed, but I could not have been the only one who saw them.  Now, though, they say unequivocally:

The protest supporter responded that they had agreed, but they removed his post (and possibly banned him from the page).  But removing the post does nothing to clear up the confusion, or the fact that there have been mixed messages from the beginning.  He posted on the protest page:

Regardless of the intention of the administrators, which is hard to figure out at best, the obvious solution in many people’s minds is to fight back. Boycotting (which some people are already doing) is undertaken with the intent to hurt a company which has donated $30 million dollars and half a million toys to children’s hospitals in the last ten years. Not to mention the fact that they run their own Children’s Hospital. Wouldn’t that be antithetical to the mission of the movement, as it hurts a company that fights childhood cancers? No, because there is no mission.

4) I can’t get behind a movement that wants to make girls feel beautiful by removing the hair from Barbie, the symbol of harmful stereotypes of what it means to be beautiful. There are so many ways to be beautiful, and these messages about one and only one kind of beauty are harmful. From a page at Westminster College:

Numerous studies have verified that one’s subjective evaluation of their own appearance can have a powerful impact on a person’s development and psychosocial experiences (as cited in Butters & Cash, 1987). Researchers have found that body dissatisfaction is correlated with other forms of psychological impairment. Not surprisingly, disturbed body image is one of the main precursors for disordered eating and dieting in adolescent and young adult girls (Attie & Brooks-Gunn, 1989; Stice & Whitenton, 2002; Striegel-Moore & Schreiber, 2000; Tiggemann & Lynch, 2001). The prominence of dieting and maladaptive eating patterns has become an increasingly prevalent concern in adolescent and young adult populations; research has shown that around two-thirds of adolescent females report dieting at some point. Further, studies have shown that body dissatisfaction surpasses actual body mass as the most powerful risk factor for the development of dieting and disordered eating (Striegel-Moore & Franko, 2002).

Strangely, some of the likers seem to agree with this sentiment, talking about inner beauty and beauty for everybody.

These kinds of posts are all over the place: inner beauty is what counts, everybody is beautiful, bald Barbie will show people that there is more than one kind of beauty (so… two kinds?), etc. This relates back to problem #2 with the movement. What is the goal? Is it to show children that bald is beautiful because Barbie is bald and Barbie is beautiful? That seems to be the point (the name of the Facebook page is “Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made”), but there is simultaneous outpouring of support for bald Barbie as the symbol of beauty, along with continuous affirmations that beauty is an inner quality.

5) I also can’t get behind a movement that has done exactly zero research on the implications of possible success. There is evidence that Barbies are made using child labor.

When Anton Foek visited the Dynamics factory in Bangkok, where 4,500 workers, most of which are female, make Barbies as well as other toys, he was appalled at what he saw. Most of the workers were from northeastern Thailand, where there is extreme poverty. In this area, if the girls aren’t sold into sexual abusive slavery at 11 or 12, they are sent to work at big city factories to provide a steady income to help support their families. Foek described the conditions of the factory as, “long hours, hard work, low pay, no vacations, no sick days, and no rights. No union and thus no voice.” 75% of the workers had respiratory infections that came from inhaling dust. Still others suffered from chronic lead poisoning as a result of working with lead and various chemicals.

The fact that there is a movement to help little girls with cancer who can afford to buy a Barbie doll feel better about their appearance at the expense of little girls in Thailand who are creating such dolls and getting chronic lead poisoning is just disgusting.

And more implications: there are small, nonprofit companies on the market, and their proceeds benefit cancer patients. Asking Mattel to make a bald Barbie is a death sentence to these small businesses. I noticed that komfykids.com was posting often on the Facebook page, but nobody was willing to look, even those who kept saying that if Mattel wasn’t willing, somebody should. It’s like everybody is blinded by this idea that the only way to cure cancer is through this one avenue, which is not clearly defined, harmful to young girls, and fraught with social ugliness. There is no willingness to think critically.

Here’s the thing. If somebody on the admin page would say, “Listen, Barbie isn’t the only representation of beauty, but the fact is, she’s a very popular doll and creating a bald version could make hair loss in general more mainstream, and that could be helpful for kids who are struggling,” that would make sense. It would still be the wrong thing to do, but it would make sense. Instead, the movement is wrapped up in this vague idea of a mission, and of beauty, and curing cancer, and getting Mattel to donate proceeds from a doll that they don’t want to make to a cause that they already donate heavily to, and it’s just a huge mess.

The fans of the Facebook page say things like “I’m completely devoted to this,” and “I would buy a lot of these dolls!” and “We can do this together!” They do seem devoted. Sort of. Then you see this:

Even with the viral nature of this movement, even with the passion that people are spitting out all over the Facebook page, 98% of the people who “like” the page aren’t even talking about it. I’m not the only one who noticed (although not very many people were willing to “like” the sentiment below).

But let’s assume that the reason so few people are “talking about this” and so many “liked” the page is that those who liked it got off the computer so they could do some actual work for the cause. Here is my challenge to those who are a part of this movement. It seems to me that it is easy to “like” something, to press a button and show to your friends that you are, indeed, somebody who hates cancer and supports sick kids. It’s also not hard to say “I WOULD BUY ONE MILLION OF THESE!!!! DO IT, MATTEL!!!” It is hard to shell out the money. There are 113,000 people liking the page. If each person puts up the $20 or so it costs to buy a Special Edition Barbie, plus $10 that would be donated to charity, that’ll be $3.4 million dollars. With that kind of capital, a similar doll could be manufactured, mass-produced, and sold, and meet all of (what I gather are) the goals of the group except for the brand name of Barbie. There wouldn’t be much left to give to charity, but one of the main messages that keeps coming out is that the little girls need this particular doll, and money alone cannot meet those specific needs.

Or, everybody could donate $30 to charity. I realize that this means that I have no heart, but $3.4 million goes a long way in terms of research and could make a real difference. And not push standards of beauty that are unattainable onto sick little girls. And not crush small philanthropic businesses that are doing the same thing already. And not create a need for more exploitation of young women in Thailand. And not keep showing up on my news feed, making me (and every one of my friends who have gone through chemo, by the way) cringe at the idea that cancer struggles can somehow be improved by de-hairing a doll.

This movement has been very successful at getting attention. They have 113,000 people listening to them. They have a chance to make an enormous difference; I challenge them to make this difference, to use the attention that they have garnered, and to leave Mattel out of it. Let’s see if we can get it done.

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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.

39 thoughts on “Takedown Take Two: Bald Barbie Returns”

  1. I have read both of your writings regarding bald barbie numerous times before responding – I agree with a lot of what you say – I was directed here by a close friend of mine that is against the bald barbie movement – she knows how I feel about blind faith….I think EVERYONE should educate themselves on all sides before making decisions – and of course use your own life experience as well. I will also say I know one of the recipients of the 2 bald princesses that mattel did make – she is truly a little warrior at the age of 4  I knew her before diagnosis , during treatment and still,thankfully am inspired by both this child and her family (she is in remission for now). I have followed the bald barbie from its very first day (there may have been 30 likes ) I began to see some of the very problems you discuss – people did take off with it stating opinions that were all over the place – as you show in some of your examples, however  I have to assume the administrators have no more control over what other people write than you have over what I am typing at this very second. I am not really sure that there is any way possible to create a “focused and organized” movement on any type of blog or facebook page.  I don’t like anyone that is disrespectful to someone just because they hold a different opinion – again I am not sure anyone can control some of these posts. I think there is no room for name calling – it is counterproductive.  I happen to be in favor of the creation of a Bald doll – and I do know that there are many out there already through smaller companies. what started this movement was the ” princess Genisis” barbie that WAS created by mattel for a little girl in ny that was having some trouble when her cancer returned and treatment began again. another mom – whose child was also having chemo- watched and heard this child and decided touse any resource she could to help this little girl – and for so many that do not know this neither parent of these girls started this movement – it was other’s that saw it . mattel was the first company and the face that was used because they had already done it. if you do go back to the start of the page you will see that they were asking any mainstream company for help (personally I like Liv dolls) I understand everyones argument about Barbie and her perpetuating negative stereotypes of woman however I will also tell you that the little girls that actually play with them ( I do and have worked in a classroom for 17 years) do not see things as adults do – In my class we do have Barbies,skipper,ken,liv dolls – and an assortment of others. some have been so used they are missing hands etc. children tend to just enjoy playing with them dressing, undressing etc.many times if you watch and listen to them I can tell you the good bad and ugly of what is going on in these childrens homes – which is why we continue to keep them in the classroom  they serve as a wonderful way for children to work through things that may be bothering them when many times they are unable to put it into words. I was never a barbie kid nor was my daughter (now 17) but I have yet to meet anyone that actually was affected by Barbie’s image POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.  yet for those of us that are adults I also don’t understand why making her not so “barbie perfect” would be a problem – it could be the first step in the more realistic Barbie. I also need to say that I was so disturbed by the article you printed regarding Mattel’s use of child labor – until I researched it – that article was from 1997- it is now 14 years later and I am unable to find anything that says that this is the case now . because I don’t believe in blind faith I decided to check into some more posts on this page too –

    131,397

    like this

    126,654
    talking about this
    this number at 4:47 am is very different than the number you posted on your story –  I had not really payed attention to this until now so in fairness I will have to continue to check this number through out the day because maybe it fluctuates dramatically
    also posted is a study on eating disorders and body image  – and it is scary – I don’t know the statistics on them to date – or if there have been any statistics on whether or not there is a study of eating disorders and the percentage of them that were caused by playing with Barbies or any other doll for that matter.  in my personal life with a teenage daughter unfortunately – we have seen in an increase over the years – for her close friend that was anorexic it was about control – not body image. but again it will have to became yet another learning journey to be saved for another day.
    I think people need to be very careful about basing any opinion simply by what you read or hear – it is so important to educate yourselves. whether you are for or against bald barbie it is wonderful to see the many dialogues – as for me I will have to agree to disagree with you on this – I still am in support of bald barbie. P.s. thanks Rhonda for reminding me to do a little bit more research – clearly there are some things going on in the bald barbie movement that are troublesome but it seems to hold true on every side of the coin – so let the growing pains continue ….
    1. I appreciate your response, and your thoughtfulness.

      First – what you have posted about the “liking” vs. “talking about” is absolutely correct.  I have tried to understand what happened with that, and I think what it is is that there is a delay in Facebook’s “talking about” feature – but that it also includes the “likes” (from what I can tell from reading about it on the internet).  When I was writing the article, so many people had liked it in such a short time that the “talking about” feature hadn’t caught up.  Now, the “talking about” feature has caught up, which is why it is about 5,000 lower than the “liking” – because those 5,000 liked it and have since not been active, but the other 126,000 have been active just by virtue of liking it.  It will be interesting to see what happens to that in a week or so, after the “liking” has died down, to see if the likers are doing any other sort of activity.

      As far as slave labor:  http://owni.eu/2011/12/21/christmas-brought-to-you-by-chinese-slave-labor-mattel-disney-china/.  This is from a couple of weeks ago.  I found several articles, but this one is the most recent, so I thought it would be helpful.

      It is hard to point to one specific doll in terms of eating disorders, but studies *have* been done that show that the media portrayal of beauty makes an enormous difference.  There are hundreds, but to me, the most shocking one deals with Fiji: when TV came to Fiji, eating disorders increased by 500%.  http://www.dimensionsmagazine.com/news/0,2107,50700-81467-578111-0,00.html.  It is impossible to deny a link.  Barbie is part of this, whether people want to believe it or not.  She is a portrayal of the “idea” that is simply impossible to achieve, and to ignore it, or discount the role she plays, is to perpetuate the problem.  You say that you have yet to meet anybody that has been affected by Barbie, but I think you should re-examine that statement about never meeting anybody that was affected by Barbie.  People, especially children, are affected by everything.  Personally, I try to limit the exposure that my daughter has to these types of messages – the movies that she watches focus on animals instead of princesses, her dolls are not portraying an ideal body type, the books we read show pictures of kids instead of stick-thin women.  This is a choice that I make because I want to limit the exposure that she has, especially while she is forming her views of the world, to such harmful ideas of beauty.

      The administrators DO have control over the page.  They have been deleting any comments that people write that are negative, and they can set a focus.  Actually, they have been doing a better job of that in the past few days, so you are probably right about it being growing pains.  Still, the focus remains very fuzzy, with 130,000 people following, and the info page not changing at all to reflect it.  The fact that administrators themselves will post things and then delete them later contributes to the confusion.

      I do appreciate your comment.  The biggest problem that I have with movements like this is blind acceptance, and it is clear that you are thinking critically about it.  Thank you again.

      1. Susan – thank you for the links I will check them out. I want to let you know that I happen to agree that everything we do and expose children to affect them.  for me the conversations for /against bald barbie even became a useful learning tool in my home. my kids (son -19, daughter 17) . I am assuming that your child is still young – just wait until he/she/they become older and incorporate everything they have learned over the years into their own adult minds – it is amazing. as I began to look up the links for Mattel and child labor – my son piped in “and when you are done with that – you might want  to look at all major us companies and find out the effect outsourcing to other countries has had on their children”  – guess I will have to do that -after I am done being thankful that I did ok as a mom. I DO AGREE that there is a direct link  between all forms of media (i suppose inot excluding dolls) and self perception. I think as parents – it is our job to counteract that the best we can in ways that each of us are most comfortable. for me I probably I chose a different route – both of my children were not shielded from any play toys or age appropriate movies, magazines that were around,mtv, etc. however you can bet each one of those things had to become a learning tool. my kids both knew a toy was just that  – magazines were not  real photos were fixed, and on and on it goes -and still continues to go . for me this worked so far (i will only swear to it up until 1 minute ago- can’t say what will be tomm.) my daughter is 5feet 4in – 131 lbs. – healthy – she does not choose to wear makeup (which is funny because she is a competitive dancer and has been able to apply it since 8 years old) she has had access to every doll, movie magazine, and I have encouraged her to use her head – for now she has been good- of course I am not saying she does not have the typical teenage “i know everything” attitude. my son as well exposed to everything but encouraged to make choices and deal with consequence – in fact he had water guns , watched batman,power rangers etc he played ice hockey ,boxed, and so far he has never had a fist fight,  (I am never sure why girls are felt to be the only ones affected by media) – my kids are respectful of adults and in the presence of – both are decent students and so far….we are ok.. so maybe my opinion of the studies that show the affects of media on kids has a flaw – and that for me, is the adults in their world. for me I have approached raising my children as “raising adults” the ride is not always smooth – but life isn’t for any of us and thinking is a learned skill –

        I think the greatest mistake people make is calling any toys “role madel” that is my big complaint with the bald/beautiful fb page. I cringe every single time I see that word in reference to a toy! I try to believe people do not actually mean that , rather they can’t find the appropriate word which for me would be Barbie is an icon, a toy , a tool. she is in no way a pivotal “person ” to my children. but I will read the studies you sent me – knowledge is power.

        I do realize that the administrators have removed negative comments – which is wrong – they apparantly have also removed some of the VERY disrespectful comments made by their own supporters as well – still not sure that is ok – even though I do understand.

        I will tell you i think we agree on more things than not – you sound like a great mom – and the most important thing is that we both agree that no matter what your opinion of any given situation BLIND FAITH is very dangerous!

        thanks again – donna

        ps – apparantly – I was wrong there is some woman somewhere that has had alot of plastic surgery to look like barbie – my daughter says it was on Jerry Springer – guess I have been watching the wrong shows. – thankfully ….

      2. sorry susan for writing again but – now after my cup of coffe (my mind is in full gear now….ahhh the many health benefits ) I think I can put into words what I was unable to previously….so hear goes – I think that media has become a scapegoat for parents – and communities as a whole. As I said before  I work in a school – I have seen so many children over the years – and have been lucky enough to see so many of them up until they go to college. there are so many people that put an enormous weight on how beautiful a child is – sometimes people forget to remind kids how smart or funny or even more importantly how kind they are. it is important to be realistic…appearance, whether we like it or not, does matter to some degree (we all make sure to look appropriate for interviews – most people know the importance of first empression) however so many people forget to tell about second impression. looking at myself – I can say I am not happy that with age there have been many changes in my body – there are even things I am not happy with- and I think that is ok – because I can say they do not define who I am as a person. if I had plastic surgery and looked perfect it would not mean that I am. that is the missing link – really I guess I have a huge problem with Barbies “perfect ness” – but how bout her many careers that she represents – how smart she is….how come people forget to point that out to children.  I guess we as adults in society can blame anyone we want but the responsibility  really is ours – if we stop putting so much emphasis on it perhaps we can take the importance out of it . if my daughter wore makeup and mini skirts – it would be okay – if she was a size 2 or 12 its okay because she values herself for the person she is….I can sleep at night knowing that I have taught her self – acceptance and hope that she continues to look at people for who they really are regardless of the outer shell.

        okay – now I am ready for work  – just one more cup of coffee – have a wonderful day!!!! enjoy and thanks for your patience!

         

         

  2. I think I prefer this post on the issue way over your last one. I think your points are more articulated, and that they focus more on the actually destructive and problematic parts of this issue. I actually feel like I could share this one with some of the people I know. . . I might even share it in a disability group I’m a part of. Even if I have to duck and cover afterwards.

    I objected to your comments- my only actual objection I want to note!- in the last one about how remote and at home virtual activism and awareness building were “slacktivism” as many People with Disabilities and Chronic illness- like myself- cannot participate in various in person protests, and low income people can’t do the boycott thing. Internet activism makes activism and awareness building accessible for these populations for whom additional hardship is required compared to middle class and abled people.

    1. Susan and I had a bit of a discussion in the comments on the last article about this, too, and what it boiled down to was differing definitions of ‘slacktivism’ which to me isn’t synonymous with ‘online activism’, for the reasons you mention, and others.

  3. In the beginning, this page and concept was something I very much supported. I think what happened was a case of friendship got in the way. A loyalty to support, instead of my typical nature which is to be realistic in thought and action. Part of me hangs my head in shame for letting friendship loyalty blind me, and part of me smiles for standing by my friend and showing support (which I still do – as I do still wish them success in their goal). Even though the planning is lacking and messy, I do give all of the women an A for their effort and enthusiasm.

    I know one of these women who administer the page. She’s a wonderful person in reality with a tremendous heart. Not in a million years did she ever think that this simple thought would bring so much attention. Truly, it caught her off guard and definitely knocked her off her feet. She’s just now standing up and trying to brush off to regain her senses. Surely, some can be a tad understanding to that much. Just to think of the media calling, knocking, emailing daily to get your story and get more detail; when in reality all you did was just have an idea and put it out there in the form of a page for others to support and hopefully get the attention of the company they were looking at. It is, indeed, a lot to handle when you aren’t prepared.

    Now that I’ve defended them, in my own small way – allow me to say to Susan, “Thank you.”

    Your article did have a fairness to it, and while I do read a bit of resentment between the lines for the actions that were taken against you (as you indicated something had been done to your account to prevent you from interacting with them – although, I could be misreading the tone I see), it goes without saying that your article did help me to see a little more clearly. You are right. There is disorganization there. I have, several times, cringed at the spellings and wording of some well intended thoughts. I’ve even thought to offer help in getting it a bit more organized. I backed off from the thought though, as I didn’t want to appear to be honing in on any “fame” or trying to suck up some kind of limelight. I tend to let people be, and wish them the best (unless I am outright asked for help). Sometimes, that boundary of friendship can be tricky when faced with adversity or the risk of hurting feelings of those you care about. Sometimes, silence is golden. I chose to be silent and support the good intent more than the goal.

    I have seen, as you have pointed out, a quick removal in the responses of those who are not 100% positive in what they have to say. Allow me to make one more small defensive move though on behalf of my nameless friend. I was able to remove a comment myself from that page. I am not an administrator though. Someone had posted something nasty that had nothing to do with the page or even the content. It was just a troll post meant to provoke anger and attention from the public. Now, I don’t know if ALL pages on Facebook allow you to do this, but I was able to click on an X besides the post, and remove the comment all together. It gave me the option to report it if I wanted (which I did as it was certainly an ugly post and had no relevance to the subject of the page). This brings me to the assumption that if I, a non-administrator, could remove a post then so could the other 100K+ of those who support the page. Which means, negative remarks are likely being removed by supporters of the page and not solely by the administrators. The administrators might not even KNOW the posts are being made because of how quickly the posts move. I could be wrong, but that’s just my theory.

    Back to my point in responding here…

    I have now taken a step back from supporting this so heavily in the way it’s been presented, because of some of your article (not all – as some of it I do not agree with). It’s not that I do not support curing cancer, or encouraging self-confidence in children who may see themselves as flawed or less than anyone else. I do support all of that, with all of my heart. It’s that I believe, like you, that there can be a better way to help these children, and without using propaganda or material things.

    What I do not believe in, is attacking one another. What I am seeing right now reminds me of a war that always seems to repeat itself in society throughout the ages. Who can relieve the problem better &/or faster. It’s like our society is constantly combating each other over the same end goal. Example: A village is starving. A group sets out together to find food. They found it, but now need to agree on the way it will get back to their village to save their people’s lives. Part of the group feels that making the wheel round is going to help get the cart of food to the hungry people faster, even if they loose a little food along the bumpy road. It’s a sound concept. Then there’s the members of the group that feel making the wheel square will help keep the cart from rolling away so easily if someone looses their grip while trying to pull the cart of food to the hungry people, even if it means the delivery will be harder to make, and slower. It’s a less sound concept, but it could work. It’s all focused at the same point, which is to feed the hungry people quickly and efficiently. One idea might not be as well thought out and even cause things to certainly be worse or go slower, but when fighting over it becomes so counter productive that the people in the group are stabbing each other with knives and killing one another, then there’s no one left to get the food to the hungry; in the end everyone dies. So why can’t the group chose to recognize that they need to work together because ultimately, they are in it together and looking at the same desire for end results, which is saving lives.

    I just simply wish for the best end result possible in all of this.

    1. Thank you for your response.  It makes a lot of sense, and I can definitely see how things got out of control and caught people off guard.  I went to the ACS website, which wrote an article about not supporting the cause, and the comments just made me sick to my stomach.  People slinging insults and attacking the author with such vitriol, because they didn’t think a Bald Barbie was a great idea.

      But it’s also being run by people who are, at their heart, just women who have been touched by cancer and want to make a difference for the people in their life who are in pain.  It’s easy for me, an outsider, to discount that.

      I saw the administrators post that they would remove anything negative, and I saw them remove posts.  I think if you press the x, it just makes it invisible to you.  I could be wrong.  But that is neither here nor there – I think the problem with the movement now (apart from the fact that I am ideologically opposed to it, but I can understand that people think it could make a difference) is that it is so rigid, and at the same time, so unfocused.  There is ONE RIGHT THING and that is BALD BARBIE but nobody has thought about how that will work; or, rather, EVERYBODY has thought about how that will work, and everybody has a different vision.  I wish that tensions wouldn’t run so high when criticism is voiced.  Then again, I do not know the grief of losing a child, so again, it’s easy for me to say that from the outside looking in.

      And thank you, again, for your comment.

      1. First off, I wanted to say I enjoy the way you write; I’m a big fan of sarcasm and wit.

        Second, I have “liked” the Bald and Beautiful Barbie page on FB. I even think it is a really cool and nifty idea. The only information I have seen on the organization of the campaign is through your two posts about it, so I am not going to try to defend either side on whether or not the campaign would/will work and/or make a difference. I also looked up a few of the bald doll companies you mentioned, though they seemed to be focussed more on breast cancer. Being a brain cancer survivor, seeing pink ribbons irks me quite a lot. I wish other cancers got as much attention as breast cancer, specifically the types of cancers that do not have screenings/prevention methods. You can’t go to your doctor and ask for your yearly brain MRI to make sure you haven’t developed a tumor. I digress.

        Third, I read that ACS post as well as the comments. That article made me absolutely livid, and some of the reasons were stated in the “passionately written” comments. I’m not upset with the fact that the author doesn’t support the Bald Barbie campaign; everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What made me angry was the fact that ACS referred to childhood cancer as being exceedingly rare. The statistics that I have found are that 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day. 7 kids dies every day from cancer. A child has a 1 in 300 chance of being diagnosed with cancer by age 20. To me, this does not seem rare, especially when the author compared a child being diagnosed with cancer to one being struck by lightening. I found this insulting, especially since I fall into that realm of being diagnosed before 20.

        As stated, it doesn’t bother me that ACS does not think the Bald Barbie campaign is not the best idea. What bothers me is that one of the reasons they don’t support it is because they say childhood cancer is rare. I also see your point about a company like Mattel creating such a doll risks putting the other non-profits that do so about of business. I also agree that the FB page is…interestingly laid out. The section of the title “let’s see if we can get this made” really makes me cringe, as it is not the most professional thing to include in the title of a campaign page. It is wrong if they are deleting negative posts; everyone has the right to state their opinion.

        I think I’ve stated everything I wanted to. I also hope it makes sense. My roommates have come home and are talking while I’m trying to type this. I have a hard time formulating sentences with lots of distractions – having a brain tumor can do that.

         

          1. I have a few links. The first is from The Children’s Cancer Fund of America:

            http://www.ccfoa.org/cancerfacts.html

            I’ve seen these statistics everywhere, though I haven’t seen one with citation to any sort of oncology journal. I then found the document “Cancer Facts and Figures 2011” which cites the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries as their source.

            With the numbers they provided, it would come to approximately 31 kids diagnosed a day and approximately 4 deaths a day. Not as bad as 46 and 7, but still high.

            http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-029771.pdf

            I find it odd that the above PDF is actually from the American Cancer Society. Even their own documents show that childhood cancer is not “exceedingly rare,” as they so claim.

            And I was mistaken; the “go to” fact is 1 in 330, not 1 in 300. It’s all over the place, though I can’t find anything like the NAACCR to cite it.

            So the “go to” facts that people use aren’t as accurate, at least according to the document I found.

             

             

             

            1. Thanks so much for those links. It’s interesting that it’s difficult to find a source for some of the ones that seem to be quoted most.

              If you take the pdf at face value, as well, it shows the psychological difference in how we react to numbers depending on how they’re framed. For example, childhood cancers in the US are “less than 1% of new cancer diagnoses”, which is 11,210 children a year or 30 children a day. The latter sounds much worse than the former, even though they’re describing the same ‘thing’.

               

  4. Somehow the hype got these imbeciles the lead story on the main news website in New Zealand, and then they opened the comments.

    Oh boy. It was bad. Possibly even worse than the comments on the Facebook page. I posted Susan’s initial take down and was thoroughly ignored, as people ignorantly bleeted on about something they hadn’t thought through or understood.

    I really should have got more involved, but the comments made my blood pressure rise a zillion points. Reading the comments on main news websites is a dangerous business.  So I’m pleased I now have 2 brilliant articles I can give to people to inform them of their blind ignorance!

      1. It really is. They’re busy patting themselves on the back for “helping” children while acting in ways that don’t help children at all (by showing that cruelty and ignorance is legitimate if you have a “cause”, and teaching them that if an opinion is “wrong” they can just tell people to STFU).

        I’ve watched a child die slowly of a horrible disease (not cancer, but watching any child die slowly is beyond awful). I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, that’s a horrible, selfish thing to wish on anybody.

    1. I’m all for it, although be warned: they are removing “negative” posts with alarming efficiency at this point.  Which is to say, any post that questions the absolute rightness of the cause.

      (And I’d do it, but I’m, um, not welcome on that page anymore).

  5. Yes but Susan, what you don’t seem to understand is that little girls with cancer who can afford to buy Barbies are a lot more important than little girls with chronic lead poisoning. /sarcasm

    (And, of course, we’re only talking about little girls of a certain socioeconomic class, i.e. the class that can afford to purchase Barbies while said girls are undergoing treatment. Do poor little girls with cancer not get to feel beautiful? Do they get to be confused about their mothers losing their hair to chemo?)

  6. This is clearly being run – if I can use that term – by people with little to no expertise in nonprofit organisation or campaigns (or basic marketing). I still don’t agree with the premise but the execution is laughable.

      1. I mean, to be fair, the people posting may have just been pretending to be PR people or crappy ones so that they could ride the wave.  With the amount of press contacting them, and the spike in “likes,” I would be very surprised if they didn’t have legitimate people knocking on their door.  Which they clearly have not taken advantage of.

  7. I almost just started a slow-clap at my computer. THANK YOU. Excellent follow-up.

    (By the way. I grew up visiting an oncology clinic for years of my childhood, because my mother was a nurse there and we did not have affordable after-school childcare options. I was not confused by the bald adults OR children around me; my mother explained why they did not have hair. I made and lost a number of friends in those years to cancer, and my exposure to this Bald & Beautiful Barbie has been much the same as yours – offended and annoyed. What a waste of an audience.)

  8. I just don’t have the patience for facebook conversations like this because as noted, many of the people just have not a clue what the hell they’re talking about, why they’re there, etc.  Zero reading comprehension.

    I don’t know how you can do it, but at least someone is condensing this stuff into some sort of readable discussion.  Thank you.

    1. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been obsessing over it for the past few days.  Blind acceptance of a (potentially harmful) movement with no clear goals is apparently what it takes to push me over the edge.

      Their hearts are in the right place, but it’s like once things started moving, there was an inability to look at anything critically.

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