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Cancer Survivors Crusade for Bald Barbie
Since Mattel’s release of Barbie in 1959, the long-legged blonde has racked up a pretty impressive resume. She’s been a paleontologist, surgeon, chef, Olympic figure skater, and even President of the United States. Now, a pair of women whose lives have been effected by cancer are presenting a bold idea for Barbie’s next role—as a cancer patient. The potential Barbie would sport a hair-free head, just like many cancer patients who’ve undergone chemotherapy.
California native Rebecca Sypin, 32, is friends with Jane Bingham of New Jersey, 41. Sypin’s 12-year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2010. Bingham, who has four children, has been battling lymphoma for five years. The women believe that introducing a bald Barbie would raise awareness of the disease, which about 1 in 4 Americans will be diagnosed with in their lifetime.
The Benefits of a Bald Barbie
In addition to representing cancer patients, Sypin and Bingham’s idea for a bald Barbie will also represent those with alopecia and other forms of hair loss. The decision to focus on Barbie is deliberate—she epitomizes beauty and success to young children. If a Barbie can be bald, then the kids playing with her might just see their hairless peers and parents in a different light.
"It's a statement to say that it's OK to be different," said Jennifer Loewy, a certified child life specialist at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital. "It's great not just for the child but for the peers." She also said that children are likely to be drawn to Barbies that look like themselves.
From a child’s perspective, it may be confusing to see people without hair. The bald Barbie could be an eye-opening experience by simply exposing the children to baldness and erasing stigmas, said Sypin. In a small way, it could affect the way they see cancer survivors, alopecia sufferers, or even their father that suffers from male pattern hair loss.
Bald Barbie’s Campaign Efforts
Sypin and Bingham have created a Facebook page to represent their efforts toward a bald Barbie. “Beautiful and Bald Barbie” was created last year, and already has 120,000 “likes” from people around the world. The page has even caught the attention of Mattel, who released the following statement:
"We are honored that Jane Bingham and Beckie Sypin believe that Barbie could be the face of such an important cause. As you might imagine, we receive hundreds of passionate requests for various dolls to be added to our collection. We take all of them seriously and are constantly exploring new and different dolls to be added to our line."
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