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Can Mattel’s Barbie Win Hearts and Minds by Combating Stereotypes?

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barbie-and-mattels-win-hearts-combating-stereotypes iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you are familiar with Barbie, and you’d have to live under a rock not to be, (she is sold in more than 150 countries and has represented 45 nationalities) you’d know she has had many careers spanning medicine, education, public service and politics.

Now Barbie is going to war, and some say for a good cause.

I’m not talking about traditional warfare here, although Barbie has seen her share of those types of battles too. She has served in every branch of the U.S. military and saw combat during Desert Storm.

No, Barbie is taking on the war of stereotypes and social norms, which some might argue is odd since they’d say she has been reinforcing them since her conception 53 years ago.

Toy company giant Mattel, the maker of Barbie — one of the most popular toys ever made — announced it will make a limited edition of the doll beginning in 2013 and this time she will be bald.

The "Bald and Beautiful Barbie" is the brainchild of Jane Bingham and Becki Sypin, two social media warriors who started a global movement on Facebook to get the bald Barbie doll made.

On Feb. 2, 2012, the campaign organizers met with Mattel officials who announced privately they’d get their Bald Barbie after all. The official public announcement came March 22 on Mattel’s Facebook page.

While the viral Bald and Beautiful Barbie campaign is a success by any stretch of the imagination, Jane Bingham calls it “only a partial victory.”

The toy giant announced a one-time production of 10,000 bald Barbies would be made and donated to the National Association of Children’s Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF).

Wanting a tressless Barbie isn’t merely a whim, it’s deeply personal for many women and children who deal with uncomfortable stares and the feeling of being outsiders. After all, Barbie may be more than just a doll. She is arguably, the icon of female beauty and the American dream.

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