Creating change by raising awareness of causes that ensure a better future.

March 29, 2012

Mattel Will Make A Bald Fashion Doll Friend Of Barbie!

Here is Mattel’s official announcement, as it was published today on their Facebook page:

“Play is vital for children, especially during difficult times. We are pleased to share with our community that next year we will be producing a fashion doll, that will be a friend of Barbie, which will include wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience. For those girls who choose, the wigs and head coverings can be interchanged or ...completely removed. We will work with our longstanding partner, the Children’s Hospital Association, to donate and distribute the dolls exclusively to children’s hospitals directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss. A limited number of dolls and monetary donations will also be made to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.

Through a thoughtful approach, we made the decision not to sell these dolls at retail stores, but rather get the dolls directly into the hands of children who can most benefit from the unique play experience, demonstrating Mattel’s ongoing commitment to encourage play as a respite for children in the hospital and to bring joy to children who need it most. We appreciate the conversation around this issue, and are interested to hear what you think! It’s been a bumpy path for Mattel navigating this issue in the social media space these last couple of months. They were slow to respond to the public’s appeal, and when they did, they found their answer harshly criticized in the media as being inadequate.

While Mattel quietly surveyed the situation and plotted their strategy, their fiercest competitor took advantage of the opportunity. In February, MGA Entertainment announced they’d debut a line of bald Moxie and bald Bratz dolls they call "True Hope" at ToysRUs in the USA and Canada by mid-June. A portion of MGA’s sales of the new dolls will be donated toCity of Hope, a research, education and treatment center for cancer and other life threatening diseases.

MGA wasn't the first to bring a bald doll to market. Cincinnati's own Kimmie Cares doll has been available online and through childrens' hospitals for a few years now. While Mattel has decided not to sell their dolls at retail stores, the organizers of the original campaign on facebook “Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made,” are still celebrating a victory.

Photography artist, Jane Bingham, who is one of the original organizers of the effort, posted this statement on the “Beautiful and Bald Barbie – Let’s see if we can get it made” facebook page:

“We are very happy with what Mattel is doing. Yes, we would like to see these bald fashion dolls (a friend of Barbie, name undisclosed yet) on the shelves or online available for purchase but Mattel is doing what it feels best by donating them only. They are also making a financial donation to CureSearch and NAAF. We hope this is one HUGE step in making bald fashion dolls available worldwide for everyone who wants one. If this is as far as Mattel goes, I cannot complain. They are doing this all without making any profit at all. As a mother with cancer and a young daughter, I would like these available to children whose mothers or a loved one has cancer and for any other reason...Trich, progeria, burn victims, etc... There are many causes of baldness in children and women but this is an amazing accomplishment and a wonderful thing for Mattel to do so let's celebrate! Go to Mattel's wall and let them know what a wonderful thing they are doing and encourage them in any direction you hope they continue with this.”

It’s interesting that Mattel chose to announce their decision directly on their Facebook page even before publishing a traditional press release. They chose to make the announcement in the place where they knew the conversation was most relevant – the place where the conversation began – social media.

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