She’s still a fantasy image

The Facebook campaign that started in December seeking a Bald Barbie continues apace, forcing dollmaker Mattel to keep responding. At first, the company said it “does not take unsolicited ideas from outside sources.” Fair enough. But the story still wouldn’t go away.

This week, a spokesman for Mattel said: “We are honored that Jane Bingham and Beckie Sypin believe that Barbie could be the face of such an important cause. Mattel appreciates and respects the passion that has been built up for the request for a bald Barbie doll.”

Is there a Public Relations Barbie? That’s a lovely statement which says nothing, the bread and butter of paid spokespeople.

That is not a criticism of Mattel. The company is in a no-win situation, as a blogger for the American Cancer Society discovered when he had the temerity to criticize the idea, and ended up apologizing for having the wrong opinion. When kids who have cancer ask for something, who can say no? But badgering a company with a Facebook page seems more an adult endeavor than a sick child’s endearing request.

Can it be noted for the record that the idea of “Bald is Beautiful” is not new? Or restricted to men? The idea that young, bald girls don’t have women to look up to is wrong. Among other places, no doubt they see such women when they are receiving chemotherapy. Friends and family shaving their heads in empathy with young cancer patients is a mainstay in life and fiction.

With all due respect to the Bald Barbie supporters, the doll’s biggest problem, and longstanding criticism, is that she has never looked like anyone real — girl or woman. Including, as the Facebook page portrays her, with a perfectly smooth, bald head. (She’s looking pretty close to a Conehead from the famous “Saturday Night Live” skit.)

The Facebook page suggests Mattel can accessorize her with “wigs, bandanas, scarves and hats.” Because bald or not, Barbie is about the outfits. (All her different career choices? All defined by the outfit.) And once outfitted with a wig, a bald Barbie is no different than any other Barbie, other than she can change her look more completely.

Maybe Mattel can come up with a way for people to custom-order their Barbies. In which case, we foresee requests for:

Bumpy-Headed Barbie.

Barbie with Feet Made for Wearing Flats.

Barbie with a Waist.

Braces and Headgear Barbie.

Short-haired Barbie.

Fashion-challenged Barbie.

Hirsute Barbie.

Short-legged Barbie.

Tattoo Barbie.

Pierced Barbie.

Flat-chested Barbie.

Freckled Barbie.

Bluetooth Barbie.

Acne Barbie.

Awkward-Stage Barbie

Sense of Humor/”Good Personality” Barbie.

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