Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Mattel to Make Bald Barbie: Why I’m Not Applauding

April 2, 2012 4:58 pm 0 comments

She may be bald. But she's still Barbie.

Over the decades since Barbie has made her debut, she has taken on many themes to reflect the diversity of her adoring fans as well as the movement of her time. Working Barbie, black Barbie, tomboy Barbie…you name it. And this week, to add to the growing list of Barbie makeovers, Mattel announced they are producing a bald Barbie for children who have lost their hair because of cancer or other illnesses.

While this move marks the first time Mattel is actually removing one of Barbie’s key features in order to make the doll familiar to a large demographic, I am unmoved by the seemingly noble effort. And the fact that there was a whole Facebook effort by every day moms that helped make this a reality is even more disturbing.

When are we going to stop relying on Barbie to make our girls feel pretty?

Let’s stop deluding ourselves. Barbie is Barbie. She will always have enlarged almond eyes bedazzled by unrealistically long and primped eyelashes. She will always have bright lipstick on her perfectly heart shaped lips. She will always have a over-developed bust and a waist-hip ratio that is unheard of among the human species. You can put a cowboy hat on her, you can even give her acne and eye glasses and call her “Dork Barbie.” But she has already defined and defiled what is beautiful for generations of women. And there are no makeovers and “versions” of Barbie that will ever erase her drugged smile and send a positive and realistic message to young girls. Or at least we have yet to see it.

The way we’re going with Barbie’s many makeovers, there may come a day where a girl will be crushed not to find a Barbie that resembles her exact style, ethnicity and now, medical condition. It seems a girl is only lovable insofar as her reflection is found in Mattel’s genius contraption.

Enough with the attempts to turn Barbie into the mirror for every young girl today. Enough with the protests when we don’t see our daughters reflected in the color, attire and hair-style of these svelte and over-developed plastic figures. Though it would be interesting to see, I would not applaud a fat Barbie or a makeup-less Barbie. Barbie by her very nature plays on a detrimental message being sent to our young girls every day—that beauty comes in one form. And the more we have to rely on Barbie to tell us what’s beautiful — no matter how sensitive in spirit — the harder it will be to reverse the effects of relying on the media to define beauty for our daughters.

A young girl suffering from cancer or a disease that causes hair-loss is beautiful because she has a smile and, most importantly, a spirit. Her beauty is in the way she chooses to accent and embellish her hair-loss, in how she chooses to find strength and humor in her situation. And if her “beauty” seems impossible to find, Barbie should be the last place to look for something that is inspiring and eternal.

And yet, the moms that banded together for this cause were bothered that “Young girls who went through any disease that had hair loss as a symptom didn’t have anyone to look up to.”

When will we stop looking to superimpose these role models in places that have already ensnared our youth with their negative messages about beauty and worth? When will we actually become these role models?

I loved playing with Barbies growing up. And when I am blessed with daughters, I doubt I will hands-down banish them from my home. But one things for sure: I will make sure my girls know that Barbie is just Barbie—a whole new and separate species that slightly resembles humans but is in no way a standard in which we seek to find ourselves.
If a young girl suffering from hair-loss complains to her mother that there is no bald Barbie, her mother’s response should not be to then valiantly insist on a bald Barbie. Her mother should be more vigilant in assuring her daughter that we don’t look to Barbie to find our beauty. Because every girl is beautiful because of something inherent—something within. Real beauty does not not need to be validated by our culture, especially in the form of a plastic figurine that, mind you, finds its source as a sex object.

When will our daughters hear this message?

With Passover’s steady approach, many of us are thinking about how best to unshackle ourselves from that which mentally and emotionally enslaves us. For women, perhaps freeing ourselves from society’s demeaning messages about beauty would be a powerful and healing exodus.

Mattel claims that three Barbies are sold every second. We have a lot of work to do.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Music Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    British rock band Coldplay started its set at the Glastonburg Festival on Sunday by broadcasting excerpts of the iconic speech Charlie Chaplin delivered in The Great Dictator, the 1940 political satire in which the famous filmmaker/movie star played a Jewish barber. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone,” Chaplin begins his address. “I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    JNS.org – The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →