Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make a Wish Barbie and Bald Barbie

Am I still beautiful?
This is a controversy of late.  
Some people think that making a barbie bald, and putting her on the shelves would help girls feel better about themselves after losing their hair due to cancer or things like Alopecia- a real disease, where you have lost your hair. 

On the other hand, some people think it is ridiculous to ruin  a beautiful barbie or princess- role models for their girls.  

To start off, we must go back a few months......before all of us were even aware they were contemplating making a bald barbie....Calli had a barbie given to her.

It was from Make a Wish, a going away gift, and to tell the truth, she, angry, and to be honest confused as to why they gave a 14 year old a Barbie.  Also, that the official Make a Wish Barbie looked like it looked-perfect.  Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect legs, perfect breasts.

Calli's Make A Wish Barbie

Don't get me wrong, she was thankful for all they had done for her and was humored with the gift, but it struck a chord in her.
Calli has never been the barbie loving, pink princess - type of girl that um..... a lot of girls are.  We never collected Barbies, as some do, and again, she is 14 not 4.  Not to say there are not 14 year old's that love Barbies and collect them, but, well, for Calli she would rather read a great book.

So that night back in November, after the Make a Wish volunteers left, she came out of her room with a scary, mad scientist kind of look, and a pair of scissors.  I got out my camera, because I knew what was coming.  

So, she did an extreme makeover to her Make a Wish Barbie.  I hesitated posting it on the blog then, even though she said that I could. I did not want to offend anyone, people don't understand.

At the time, she was upset and a little crazy in a good way- it was therapy to cut, mangle, burn and remake the Barbie to look how she looked at the time.  It was a way for her to deal with the situation and make it her own.

First she cut off the long, curly, blond locks

Then, she tried to shave her head with her razor! She was really enjoying this

That is SO much better!

Now for the Radiation BURNS(sorry for the naked barbie), and of course the marking tattoos

Calli bears the scars of radiation all down her front and back- and the tattoos are permanent

you cannot see them as well here, but she has terrible stretch marks from the medication they gave her- they are worse than any one I have ever gotten from having children.

pretty Barbie now- sitting on her shelf :)
 So... It was therapy, it was belonging, it was destroying the hype about hair, and skin and beauty.  IT made her feel good, better, joyful.

We are bald, we are still beautiful, and still princesses!
 Two weeks ago, as we were checking in for chemo- we saw this new poster up at CHOP.  We laughed and we were so filled with joy, and reminded of Calli's Make a Wish Barbie that she had- made over!  Someone brought this poster in and most of the little girls, moms and dads, thought is was so appropriate and great.  These princesses, though bald, are still beautiful, and still princesses-

Some parents, however, were upset, one little girl in particular, was angry and did not want her princesses to look like her- bald.

So, there is a mom out there advocating for Mattel to make a bald Barbie, to market it and put it on the shelf, as a way of comforting and making these precious children feel beautiful and like they are normal too.

I'll start off by saying that while some people, women and little girls alike, get wigs to feel normal, look normal, there are others who embrace their baldness in different ways.  Some wear hats, and some moms shave their heads in support, some moms leave their hair for normalcy and comfort to their little girls.

There is no wrong here, there is no right.  Each family, has a huge burden, a huge battle and each way that they cope and deal with it is different.   For one little girl, it may upset her to see her mommy bald, she may want to curl her hands around her mom's hair... for a teen girl, it may give her the confidence and bonding of shaving her mom's head- and feeling like she belongs and is no different. 

We chose, as a family, to embrace baldness.  For months, Calli hid her bald head.  She wore coverings, and scarves, hats and hoodies.  The looks, the stares, the glares, the quizzical faces, and disgusted smirks- we have received them all, from men, women, children, boys girls-   Finally, Calli let us shave our heads in support of her.  From that moment on, she went bald, no longer hiding, but holding her beautiful, bald head higher, she told us she felt like she finally fit in, and felt more accepted.  The people close to us noticed, how much of a change happened in just a day.  She smiled more, put on a little make-up, dressed nicer.  She felt normal, she felt beautiful, she felt accepted and she was not alone anymore.

The elephant in the room, was no longer just an elephant that people tried to ignore or avoid.  People actually resolved within themselves to bring it up, talk about our bald heads, marvel at them.  It became a normal for those around us to see the baldness, look past it, and see the real issue-the beauty of our family, the togetherness, we are fighting as one- united.  

I have never felt as beautiful.  We have never had so many comments from absolute strangers about how beautiful we are.  I am fat, overweight, plus-sized and I feel the most radiant and beautiful I have ever felt since I was pregnant.

So back to Barbie, I Got to thinking that she never really has been all that great of a role model for us gals...  Barbie has never been a great aspiration to look like-I mean, she is perfect, and none of us, I repeat- none of us look like her.

  Some comments I am reading say, "....Barbie is who their daughter always played with that she and the princesses should not look bald, they are not meant to look that way."  Yes, you are so very right....none of us are!  But sometimes life happens and we go bald, we get sick and we take nasty drugs that make us bald.  Cancer, and their protocol of drugs, is not kind on the body- they make you swell, give you terrible purple stretchmarks, make you fat, make you skinny, make you pale and feel anything but beautiful....

So, I found this article online, and this woman made a life sized idea of what Mattel's Barbie would actually look like.  It's kind of sick :)

  So Deborah Dunham, showed us that "If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe. She would also weight just 110 pounds and have a BMI of 16.24–statistics that would classify her for anorexia. Because of this, she likely would not menstruate, and she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions."

I was so inspired by this picture, that I wrote a poem with the help of Calli...
Get real Barbie
Where is your muffin top?  
Why don't you have a big nose?
Or have your hair sassy, short or cropped?
Why are your toes so straight?
Can't they be crooked like mine?
Why don't you gain some weight?
Where is your receding hairline?

Grab a doughnut, and some cheese...
Get some cellulite, would ya please?
Thicker thighs and smaller bras
Be a pear or an apple... 
Let us see your flaws!

Whether you are skinny,
Or whether you are fat
Short or long hair
Chesty or flat
Curly or straight
Bald or Fuzz

You are precious
And that is Because
You are unique
Dare to be oblique

Whatever size or shape you are
You are beautiful, you are a star!
You are a not a barbie 
and that is just fine
Be lovely on the inside
And you will surely shine!
 - by Lucy and Calli Derstine
January 2012

Perhaps if there was a barbie on the shelf, that was say, bald...It would make it more mainstream- more normal....  If parents would buy out of the norm, bald, black, asian- handicapped- the more you see it, the more normal it becomes.  Not that cancer it is normal, because it is not.   But I mean, it is about being aware- sesitizing yourself, your children that over 46 kids each day are diagnosed with cancer.  Cancer is still the number one disease killer of children.

I mean, our country is all about awareness-right?  I mean, they make handicapped barbies, and we are putting children with down syndrome and in wheel chairs on Target ads- which Target, by the way- I loved that! So, why not?  Why not take a beautiful child, who is bald, and put her on a billboard- and it not be an ad about cancer- but say, just a regular target ad, or toys r us ad?

To sum up it all, I think, as does Calli, that it is encouraging and would be helpful and would raise the normalcy has the potential to make little girls more aware and comfortable with baldness, should their friends cousins, or classmates lose their hair to chemo, or Alopecia.   They are still beautiful, they are the same is just hair.

On the other end of it, a Barbie, is not a great role model to compare our beauty with.  Our true beauty, as humans, should not be measured by our body size or shape, hair length, skin tone, should be the inside that counts-

The determination, the courage, the strength and honesty that these children display- humbles me and brings me to tears each day.

Yesterday, I saw so many courageous fighters, all battle worn, all tired, all sick..but they persevere, they move on, they continue to fight and do not give up!  They are the most beautiful children I have ever seen or met.  They all have scars, burns, droopy eyes, "weird faces," bald heads....what is wrong with giving them a little bit of empathy from a doll?  I mean, if it can make them feel better, like they are normal, then why not?

May you see past a face, and right to a heart
May you see past a head, and right into a soul
May you be blind to vanity
And see clearly 
The purity of character standing before you.
Can you see my Calli?
Isn't She beautiful?


  1. Bravo Lucy and Calli! Spoken from the hearts of many woman/mothers/daughters. I always loved my Barbie, but was always aware that no girl (me anyway!!!)really could look like that. I think it is Barb's business sense that I admire :)

    The photos are wonderful, beautiful and I wonder Lucy, are you the owner/founder of 'Flashes of Hope'?? :) The photographer is certainly to be applauded. clap clap.

    Oh, love Calli's T-shirt too. ha.
    And, I have always thought that you (both)are beautiful- inside AND out. Sorry, but you are still cutie pies in spite of the stretch marks, scars, baldness, big nose.. oh wait, that wasn't on the list was it? lol.

    BTW, when I was a kid I cut the hair off all of my troll dolls, but I guess that's different ~ or not...?
    Love ya. Miss ya.

  2. Flashes of Hope, is a volunteer based national non profit that changes the way children with cancer see themselves- it is really neat and totally free to families. All of their pictures are copyrighted for public use, but free for us to use on our blog, or to print out ourselves:)

    Oh and yes, my nose :)

  3. You have a beautiful nose!!
    And thanks for the photo info. Sweet stuff/company!

  4. Lucy I love you! You are a GREAT MOMMY :) and I'm so very proud of the woman you have become and I'm thankful for the forgiveness that shines through your heart. Love you little sis. Your pictures are beautiful of you and Calli and they made me burst into tears.

  5. You and your daughter are both SO beautiful and amazing women. I LOVE how Calli added her artistic visions to the barbie she got. I think its totally awesome! Calli, I hope that you know that each scar you have makes you more unique and more beautiful. I know that maybe not everyone sees things that way, but I do. I always hated my scars (which are nothing compared to what you've endured and the scars you have from it). I have awful stretch marks, I got them when I was about your age because my hips decided they wanted to grow like crazy.. I was afraid to wear a bikini or bathing suit pretty much since then. Then I met my fiance at age 27... After awhile I let him see them and he said "I don't see what the problem is, I love them, I think they're cute". Since then, I wear my bikini proudly, because I realized that anyone who looks at me and thinks my stretch marks are ugly, probably has some serious self image issues of their own and is just taking it out on me :) They make me me, and thats ok :)

  6. As the mummy of 5 princesses.....BRAVO! Thank you! :)


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