13 January, 2012

Should there be a bald Barbie?


In a word, yes.


Because Barbie is, and has been, a representation of beauty to little girls and even little boys for as long as I can remember. Are some of us surprised when we get older and realize those body types are unattainable? Hell yes. Is a lack of consideration for different body shapes, skin tones, and ethnicities? Of course. 

Both of those things are something that are a problem with Barbies, and I get that. However, that doesn't mean that Mattel would be wasting their time to make them, or that encouraging Mattel to make them, is a waste. I rarely hop behind Facebook-based causes and I'm not a big fan of the long, flowery, tear-jerking stories trying to make support for cancer or breast cancer research.

I think this would be a good business move for Mattel. In honesty, I think altering the body shape of Barbie to a more realistic size (even moving them back to the size Barbies were when I first got them in the end of the 80s) would be a good business decision. Why? 

People are going to buy Barbies either way, at least in some degree. However, they can make Barbies more respectable. Even today, as much as I know how bad the body image damage can be and how racist Mattel's lineups can be, I still love Barbies. There's still too much pink, and they could definitely be a little more appropriate to a realistic human being's body size, but dangit, they're fun. I played with Barbies because it was fun to dress something up, and they had tons of different clothes options. I don't understand why there wasn't ever a bald Barbie before (like I didn't understand why almost all Barbies had long hair, either), since some people actually are bald, on purpose.

Mattel is a business for kids. All of the business classes talk about corporate responsibility and community involvement, and this is one of the best, most emotionally impactful ways Mattel can accomplish both of those things. Make Barbies with no hair, and (as someone mentioned in The Mary Sue's comments) call them "Survivor Barbie". Give as much of the proceeds to charities as possible (a good charity that will not waste the money) - heck, do even 50% of the Barbie's sale price. 

Then, make wigs.

Tons of them. Different colors, styles, shades, and sell them at a price that's reasonable and will give a good return. I think they'd make their money back. People spend OODLES on accessories for Barbies now, imagine if they could get a Barbie that has a clean slate and make it have whatever hairstyle they want! 

I think it would be awesome. I understand that changing the body style of Barbie is expensive and takes a crapton of time and effort (but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea), so it is less likely to happen. However, making a new head, and then making just a bunch of different Barbie wigs, should be more affordable. I know that businesses have to make money, and I think this would be a good way to do it while still making a bald Barbie like people are asking for, contributing to charitable efforts, and responding to consumers.

Edit: These would probably work best as a limited edition during a Cancer Awareness month, or as a short run before advertising and marketing is changed to label them as "interchangeable hair" Barbies. 

THAT is what I want to see. Do it, Mattel!

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