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CREATING YOUR OWN IMAGE
Many of you who are avid Facebook users like myself, may have seen a recent post circulating that says: “Mattel should make a Barbie with no hair so that every girl fighting cancer feels beautiful! Put her in pink, name her HOPE and send the proceeds to St. Jude. Post this if you agree, I bet 99% of you won’t.” This post seems to have created a variety of opinions around the subject of creating a doll who represents childhood cancer.
As it turns out, Mattel did custom make a princess Barbie doll who had no hair for a little girl diagnosed with cancer. The “Princess Genesis” doll was created specifically for this little girl and although Mattel has no current intentions of turning this into a product line, the idea has been discovered (Mian, 2011).
I personally was intrigued by this post and discussed it with many of my friends in the cancer and brain tumor community, my family, and co-workers. There were so many points brought up that seem to delve quite a bit deeper than merely buying a doll that Mattel promotes.
On the one hand, creating such a doll would certainly spread awareness on the subject. Most people, unless immersed in it, are not aware of the severity of childhood tumors and cancers. Having a doll that both patients and non-patients could purchase would certainly set forth the image that illness in young children DOES exist.
On the other side, what would and does having this doll actually say? There are so many other side effects of tumors and treatments that this doll would not convey. Would it show physical limitations or effects to the skin and body as a result of radiation and chemotherapy? These are things that although nobody likes to witness or think about, are very true to a child undergoing cancer treatments. One of the arguments against this doll is that many people are under the assumption that once the cancer is treated, all of the remaining issues go away. As most of us know, this is most frequently the opposite. Having a doll that appears to be the image of health, aside from a head of hair, may only further promote the idea of being “cured” after cancer.
Everyone has a different way of coping with their diagnosis and might view the idea of this Barbie in very different terms. I think it’s important to look at ideas such as these very carefully so you can form your own opinions around them and therefore become a better advocate for yourself.
Source: Mian, Rashed. 11 Mar 2011.Young cancer patient gets custom barbie doll. Long Island Press. Retrieved online, 6 Jan 2012 from: http://longislandpress.com/2011/03/05/young-cancer-patient-gets-custom-barbie-doll/.