Posts Tagged ‘social standards’

tumblr_n7r6vgKPpR1t6dcj7o1_500.jpgI’m getting tired of hearing that….


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Disclaimer: While I have never experienced baldness personally, drawing from the literature on disability and class discussions I felt an affinity with the topic. If I indirectly offend anyone I offer an apology in advance.Image

Recently I’ve noticed a lot of rabble on facebook about a topic I never thought would pop up in my newsfeed: Bald Barbie.

There’s a facebook group dedicated to pressuring Mattel to create the Bald Barbie for children who suffer from hair loss due to cancer as well as Alopecia, and Trichotillomania. Mattel has finally released a statement saying they will create Bald Barbie but it, “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.”

Hm. So, the new doll cannot be labeled a “Barbie” and she still has to have fashion accessories which, in my interpretation, (and perhaps this is my raging feminist coming out) means people who have hair loss still have to cover up their scalp since baldness cannot be accepted as normal.

Not only will Mattel’s new doll not be a “Barbie”, she will also only be distributed to children’s hospital for reasons of “directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss”. But what about the children who are not in hospitals who have experienced hair loss? And how does a hospital reinforcing to the children that they’re still beautiful actually combat the main message that Mattel sends out to the general public on a day-to-day basis, i.e. beauty has a certain standard, and if you don’t have the hair and body for it, you will never be beautiful.

Could placing the doll on the shelves of a toy store create too much of a sense of normalcy towards hair loss?

From the past course discussions on disability, and the invisibility and inaccessibility that many disabled people have expressed they have experienced; I don’t think that Bald Barbie does much to enhance the lives of children who have experienced baldness.

By only distributing these dolls to hospitals Mattel is stating that baldness is still a disability and is associated only with illness. Mattel could release Bald Barbie in mainstream stores and allow Bald Barbie to be viewed right next to a Barbie with hair but then what message would Mattel be sending to the children that experience baldness? Beauty standards can actually deviate from what Mattel portrays them to be?

If Bald Barbie were to be considered equal and sold in the mainstream market right next to a Barbie with hair I think children who experience hair loss could actually feel acceptance and beauty towards their baldness, especially when Barbie is such an icon for female children for femininity and glamour.

I think Mattel’s creation and distribution of Bald Barbie is just another way to emphasize disability rather than accept it.

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