Mattel is manufacturing a bald Barbie doll named Ella. This is kind of a big deal.
The saga of the Bald Barbie began in January 2012, when some folks set up a Facebook page asking Mattel to create a bald Barbie doll for kids with cancer who had chemo or other conditions that might have caused hair loss. No one really noticed until a blogger for the American Cancer Society made some very dumb statements about kids with cancer, and the Facebook page got a lot of play on social media. Eventually, the page got over 100,000 likes, American Girl and Bratz agreed to create bald versions of their dolls, and Mattel, finally, agreed to create Bald Barbies to be distributed to hospitals.
And that's where we have been for a little while -- Mattel has been creating a version of Barbie named Ella for distribution at children's hospitals. But apparently, not enough of them. A mom created a Change.org petition asking Mattel to create more of them (apparently, the hospital where he daughter was being treated for Leukemia only had 6 dolls).
She got over 100,000 signatures (that seems to be the number that gets Mattel's attention), and now Mattel has agreed to step up production of the Ella dolls.
On the one hand, I'm not crazy about Mattel's response. Like the first time around, they seem to need some real nudging when it comes to this doll. I understand their desire to protect the Barbie brand, but it seems like maybe the guy who wrote the ACS blog post is doing the Mattel public relations -- how could they think that helping kids with cancer could be anything but good publicity? Why the need for a big nudge?
That said, Mattel did eventually step -- both times. They may have dragged their feet, but in the end, they did make the dolls.
I thought the idea for a bald Barbie was great two years ago, and I think it's great now. Whatever it is that helps people get through their cancer -- whether they are men, women, or children -- is a good thing, and I admire companies that step up and do the job.
Of course, not everyone steps up, exactly......