on giving cancer patients bald barbie dolls

Mattel is being “kind” by making specialty dolls?

we all have those corporations that we believe-in …. like i believe in Microsoft until one of their updates messes things up again. i still think that when having any type of illness or disability, a person is not their illness and to identify and circle themselves strongly around that is not mentally healthy. yes, reality is something to face, but human being is much more than emphasized differences.

under that philosophy, we would be giving the elderly in care homes figurines or posters with men in diapers–in our own homes there would be pictures of people with canes or i have sinusitis so i should surround myself with images that remind me i can’t breathe? but i don’t do that.

children love anything if it comes with attention — an acknowledgement that they matter. dwelling on the facets of a disability for any person, adult or child — can result in despair.

and again, the psychology of a wheel chair doll or a bald doll is for the sake of saying we are all different and all special in our own ways. like using them as a stand against conformity or exclusions. yet in that process, are simply creating a new group and new exclusions.

it is then the same debate as to whether have special education classes for disabled children, or to keep them mainstreamed. and most of the conclusions are that children do better when not excluded according to their PERCEIVED disabilities or differences.

when everybody goes home, and the child is left with a toy that mimics the one thing that has changed their life forever … if they see it and smile –THAT is called innocence. if my grandmother had given me a demonstrably FAT doll as a child, i might have thought that was cool. at the time……but once the innocence faded, i would seriously wonder how much she hated me. it opens the door to the possibility that the fat was all she noticed and nothing else i did mattered. it was only how i looked that mattered.

toys and educational toys have great impact, especially since they are mass-produced. in my early childhood development classes, were given not just lists of better toys but the psychology of why one will create better results than another. when i taught elementary-level computer science (in the days of the floppy disc) the kids responded much better to programs that had their progress right up front. a positive reinforcement of achievement. now how is having to shoulder a disability, something you should turn into an achievement? a prize, a trophy. i’m not saying that can’t be done — i’m saying should it be done?

you have families already stressing with all the time and energy it takes when a child is in the hospital or permanently disabled — as the child grows the question WILL arise that does my family resent me …resent my needs? that happens with everyone, even those not facing serious illness. if all they return in observation is that you are your illness, then the answer is yes — they must resent me. because i am apart. i am alone. i am the doll with the bald head and i am loved because of my illness, not despite it.


13 Replies to “on giving cancer patients bald barbie dolls”

  1. This is a really insightful perspective on a tough topic. I think that Mattel had the best intentions, yet you are right in that even with the best intentions, something like that can be taken the wrong way. What can we do when a child has cancer and wants a doll, it’s too hard to answer!

    1. well you look at the conventional use of dolls to “pretend.” they are not made in the first place, to experience “reality.” and the irony is that the mattel barbie is one of the least realistic portrayals of what any little girl could grow up to be. there are some serious psychological questions to where concerned scientists have run tests on those exposed to barbie dolls and those not. so what would i get a sick child? a ninja turtles action figure, and i would hang out and play with them in a make-believe world entirely our own.

      1. Yeah..or whatever the hell they wanted to play with! I didn’t like barbies when I was young and was obsessed with sock puppet monkeys instead. Kids when left to themselves will design their own worlds according to what enchants them. I agree about barbie, fantastical proportions that come from cartoons are the first little suggestion given to little girls that they don’t measure up to some f’ed up ideal

        1. any wildly distributed item is going to have impact, just this last year we had the disney princess controversy with the character from Brave. few years back i was at the beach and came upon a naked barbie doll with a missing leg. sat down and braided its hair while i looked out over the ocean. i thought about deformities and differences, then set the doll so it could look out over the ocean before i walked away. my heart hurt for the child throwing away her barbie after it was no longer perfect.

        2. This is an amazing story. You should think about writing it either for this blog or pitching to a women’s magazine like The Rumpus, it powerfully illustrates how the body is seen by everyone as being a place of contention. It’s sad that we ignore or abandon dolls in the wild, really this is an analogy for our own worries and fears about our own body!

        1. no it’s alright, i got my dander up today, and went on and on in another thread….. so am forcing my own “mellow.” it angers me, also…. the manipulation of human lives for the sake of corporation profit? if i was in charge the would be a lot of accounting to do…..

        2. Yes, this is an endless cause of pain to me too. I got pretty depressed about it until I limited the amount of news watching I was doing. I think you need to limit your exposure to these things, or it can eat away at you and make you either angry, depressed or a combination of both. Protect yourself from the badness in some way

        3. yes i am having to find other things than news these days, while waiting for them to quit harping on the same things over and over. plus with the political season now…. is better to concentrate on things closer to home.

        4. oh and my grandmother was an educator, so were not given barbies. she saw through that thing quick as a heart attack. she let me collect dolls dressed in different nationality costumes. those were fun…..

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