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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Bald Barbie

Barbie has had almost every lifestyle and personality, but Barbie has never been bald.  ATVN's Danica Ruberti Spoke with one woman who is fighting to make this happen.


Rebecca Sypin of Lancaster joined forces with Jane Bingham of New Jersey to push Mattel, the toy-making company, to create a bald Barbie doll. The bald doll would be used to support cancer patients who lose their hair during chemotherapy. Sypin’s daughter, Kinley, has been fighting Leukemia for the past year, and still has a year and a half of chemotherapy to go.

“In general, for them to have somebody that looks like them,” said Sypin. “That they can identify with, that is small enough to take anywhere and, yet, at the same time is the iconic image of Barbie.”

Sypin helped start a campaign on Facebook called “Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let’s see if we can get it made.” With more than 140,000 likes, the page has exploded and Sypin wants to gain enough supporters to get the attention of Mattel.

“It’s more than just the money donated to childhood cancer. It’s more than shaving your Barbie’s head,” said Sypin. “That kind of makes the Barbie abnormal, and we don’t the kids to see themselves as abnormal.”

Therese Wilbur, the former Senior Director for Mattel’s Marketing Department, said a bald Barbie would not benefit the company. She said Mattel doesn’t want to diminish what people, like Sypin, are going through, but a toy is not the right way to relate to their struggle.

“There is kind of a category mismatch because toys are about fun and playing,” said Wilbur. “Cancer is serious and not about fun and playing.”

Wilbur said the toy-making company has given back to the community in other ways. Mattel is linked to the Mattel foundation that sponsors the UCLA Children’s Hospital to help give back to children who go through chemotherapy. 

Dr. Araz Marachelian, a pediatric oncologist, builds strong relationships with her patients from the day they are diagnosed with cancer to the chemotherapy process. She said a bald Barbie doll could help children when they do role-play during chemotherapy sessions.

“Sometimes they think about their problems in their playing,” said Dr. Marachelian. “So it’s nice to have props that are appropriate that sort of mirrors their life.”

Sypin said she just wants to take the bad stigma off of a child walking down the aisle without hair. The doll might not fix everything, but it will give them somebody to relate to. Kinley said she knows their work will get the attention of Mattel.

“When we get this created, because I know we are, I’m buying the first one,” said Kinley. “I don’t care if I have to wait by the store until like 1 a.m. I’m getting that one.”

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