Is it Time for Barbie to Die?

Yes, I played with Barbies when I was a child. My Barbie always had her own job and apartment. When my daughter was old enough, she played (kind of) with Barbies. She preferred Bratz because she loved the BIG make-up and she couldn’t figure out why Barbie couldn’t stand up right. Then, there was the American Girl dolls that sold miniature accessories like furniture and stables, most of which cost more than my furniture and horseback riding lessons.

Barbie has been under-appreciated, even mocked for decades by women who felt she makes young girls feel bad about their bodies, providing an unrealistic image to live up to. So Mattel gave Barbie a job – mom, chef, soccer player, doctor, astronaut, vet – you name it, Barbie could do it. Unfortunately, and I temper this slightly, there is a movement on Facebook by two women who want Mattel to create a bald Barbie with cancer.

Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, have mobilized and set up a Facebook page called, “Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made.” The motivation behind it, according to Christina Rexrode with the Associated Press who interviewed the women is “in support of children with cancer.”

My mother died from ovarian cancer in 1996. The thing I remember vividly is the outward clues from the demon within that was ravaging her body. I know there are some women who undergo chemo treatment that feel the need to show their baldness. I simply don’t know why. To me, it’s akin to being one with the cancer, giving it power. My heart breaks when I see them, because I am reminded of the futile fight my mother had with cancer, desperately trying to live because she couldn’t imagine leaving her children behind.

Sypin and Bingham’s Facebook page is up to 74,000 likes. Even the image of the bald Barbie in the profile picture makes my stomach sink. Cancer takes away so much of a woman’s dignity. I am not in the camp of women who want to give cancer a face. It is a killer and to give it prominence by creating a sick, bald doll smiling and looking healthy flies in the face of reality. Can you imagine giving it as a gift? “Look Barbie and you are both bald.”

According to the story, “Bingham has lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments to treat lymphoma. Sypin’s 12-year-old daughter, Kin Inich, also lost her hair this year in her own battle with leukemia.”

I completely understand their need to make something positive out of their experience with cancer, but bald Barbie is absurd. Cancer is not glamorous. If you’re going to make a bald Barbie with cancer, then do it right. Make her face sunken in and pale. Put pin pricks in her arm with bruises from so much blood being drawn. Make sure you include the port that is embedded in her chest to pump in the deadly chemo and a hole in her mouth that spews out the food that is impossible to digest. Make her clothes three sizes too big so that they hang off of her and give her the smell of alcohol, betadine and vomit. Maybe if we start to see cancer as the demon that it is, a cure will be inevitable.