Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Bald Barbie!

I read Bald and Beautiful...Barbie today on the news.  Basically a group of women have come together and written to Mattel to ask them to create a bald barbie doll.  This group of women either suffer from alopecia, have a child who suffers from alopecia, or they or their child has lost their hair to leukemia.

Personally, I think this is a great idea.  As a young child, suffering from alopecia having a visual conversation starter would have been great.  Using the doll as a tool to tell others about my alopecia would have been helpful for me.  Something tangible to use as a prop. 

It's really tough being a child with hair loss.  I had an extremely hard time talking about my hair loss.  I know my parents helped out a lot by telling my teachers, preparing them for it, but I still had some horrible experiences.  It took me a lot of time before it was easy for me to talk about it.  As a child, when someone asked me about my bald spots, I would usually just burst into tears.

I have some horror stories of dealing with alopecia as a child.  When I was in second grade, I had to wear a wig to school for awhile, because I had lost so much of my hair.  One day, we had a substitute teacher, and she was not aware that I was wearing a wig.  One of the boys in my class, came up to me to ask me something, inadvertantly grabbed my hair and my wig fell off.  I still remember Rebecca screaming, "Lauren's head is falling off!"  So funny now, but I was mortified as a child.  The substitute was at a loss of what to do, so she stuffed my wig into a brown paper bag for the rest of the day.  Really, come on people.  Send me to the office, call my mom, but stick my hair in a brown paper bag and go on as if nothing happened?  Some people are hopelessly inept in dealing with childrens' needs.

And I did some crazy things.  I went to camp at eleven, and I left my hair in a pony tail for FIVE weeks.  I was so afraid when I showered someone would see my bald spots.  I was also afraid I wouldn't be able to put the hair up to cover the spots. My mother had always done those things for me.  (I still wonder why my counselor did not pull me aside and ask me about it!)

So, yes, having a bald barbie doll would have been good for me.  It would have showed me that it's okay to be bald.   Being different isn't necessarily bad, it's just being different.  I wish as a child someone would have sat me down and told me it was okay to talk about it. (I'm fairly certain this happened at some point towards high school with my Dad).  Talking about it is what has led me to accept my hair loss as an adult, and it leads others to be more accepting too. 

Although Mattel doesn't accept outside ideas, I am hoping that they will pick up on this one.  And, no, they can't create a Barbie doll for everyone's situation, but having a child with alopecia who can identify with a bald barbie could be great for her self esteem.  It could show her that it's okay to bald.  It doesn't change who you are inside.  It's okay to talk about it, to accept yourself and to seek acceptance from other people.

1 comment:

  1. I think that would be a great idea for kids with alopecia, as well as childhood cancers.  We have a child in our day care who has lost her hair after chemo treatments for leukemia.  I think a doll like this would be a great way to help the other kids relate to her. 


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