In recent months, you’ve undoubtedly heard all the buzz about the Facebook campaign urging the production of a bald Barbie doll. And though Mattel, the makers of Barbie, did respond, it wasn’t really the answer that many people expected. Instead of producing a bald Barbie available in stores for the masses, Mattel chose to produce a limited-edition doll that would be donated to children in hospitals.

Mattel disappointment

As the Beautiful and Bald Barbie Facebook movement went viral, it resounded with people around the world and in the media. With all the publicity, it was no surprise that Mattel decided to do something. But was creating its limited-edition doll, which would undoubtedly end up in the hands of collectors, the answer? Jane Bingham, one of the women behind the Facebook campaign, certainly doesn’t think so.

“While I am happy they are making the 10,000 dolls and donating them, in their words, ‘to the children who need them most,’ I feel they are sort of defeating the purpose of the doll,” explained a disappointed Bingham. “By making a one-time limited production that will not be sold, they are actually producing high demand for doll collectors who will be willing to pay a lot of money to add one to their doll collection.

“I fear many of the children will not even be allowed to open the box, interact and play with the doll, because of the high value that will be on the doll’s head to collectors. I have already been contacted by collectors asking how they can get one. Also, children and adults who have a loved one affected by hair loss, be it from chemo, alopecia, trichotillomania, or another autoimmune disorder, will not be able to get one. Another purpose of this is to help reduce the stigma for children and women who live with hair loss, to not be ashamed and feel like they need to hide and not be seen in public with a bald head. The way Mattel is doing this is honorable in one way yet dishonorable in another because so many in the community feel that Mattel is too ashamed to offer them on the shelves of stores.”

MGA Entertainment steps up

With the great outcry and demand for a bald doll, another company decided to get on board: MGA Entertainment — makers of the popular Bratz and Moxie Girlz dolls. This summer, MGA is releasing six bald dolls online and in stores around the world. Sales of the dolls will benefit pediatric cancer charities.

“The decision was 100 percent influenced by the Facebook campaign,” says MGA Entertainment CEO Isaac Larian. “Had Jane and Beckie [Sypin] not created such a loud and far-reaching campaign, we would never have known that there was a need for these dolls.”

And though MGA answered the bell, it certainly wasn’t a decision made simply to one-up Mattel. “The callout was for all toy companies to step up, not just Mattel,” Larian explains. “We heard the call and took action. Frankly, every toy company should be stepping up for such an important cause.”

Reducing the stigma associated with hair loss

By making the dolls available to everyone, on the store shelves right next to all the other dolls, MGA aims for the True Hope dolls to inspire and support those children suffering from hair loss.

“The Bratz and Moxie Girlz True Hope dolls are designed to support and comfort young girls and boys who bravely endure cancer treatments, alopecia, and all hair loss diseases,” says Larian. “We hope our dolls will create inspiration for these kids and will reduce the stigma of hair loss. It’s a message to kids that their beauty and self-worth are not dependent on having hair.”

The True Hope dolls aren’t just like any other doll minus the hair. Great thought, care, and research were put into the details of creating the collection.

“It was important for us to remain authentic and thoughtful in the creation of these dolls,” Larian says. “The process of making these dolls is quite different than the fashion dolls we are used to making. There are different needs and sensitivities to be aware of — such as hair loss on eyebrows. With input from our partners at City of Hope, we learned, for example, that it would be unusual to lose the hair on your head and not on your eyebrows during cancer treatment. The beaded bracelets we include in the package are inspired by the bravery beads that children receive after chemotherapy. We thought it would be a meaningful accessory to include for the child.”

Where to shop for the True Hope dolls

Fortunately, the True Hope dolls will be available to the public. If you know a child who is suffering from hair loss, or you just want to support the cause, you can order the dolls online or pick up one at your local Toys ‘R’ Us store.

“In June, MGA will release three True Hope Bratz dolls — Cloe, Yasmin and Cameron — and three True Hope Moxie Girlz dolls — Avery, Sophina and Jaxson,” says  Larian. “Priced at $14.99 each, the True Hope dolls come with two outfits, a hat and a beaded bracelet. True Hope dolls will be available in the U.S., Canada and the UK at Toys ‘R’ Us stores and in June and at in July. In the U.S., MGA will donate $1 for every True Hope Bratz and Moxie Girlz doll sold to City of Hope for cancer research. In Canada, MGA will make the donation to The Starlight Children’s Foundation, and in the UK, MGA will donate to CLIC Sargent — the UK’s leading cancer charity for children.”

Just like other children

Returning to Bingham, we wanted to know what she thought about MGA’s decision to create these special dolls for children dealing with hair loss.

“I am thrilled,” Bingham says. “They put a lot of thought into these dolls. They are not only making one but six dolls and including two boys in that. I asked them why they didn’t include wigs. MGA’s response was they didn’t feel wigs would encourage reducing the stigma that a child or woman has to hide that they don’t have hair. They did include hats and a second outfit for a fun play experience with accessories.

“MGA and Mr. Larian have been so gracious and wonderful throughout. I am proud of how they’ve been supporting this cause. I am so happy we will see these dolls available not only online but also on store shelves, right next to all the other dolls … just like children who live with baldness should be able to feel comfortable being.”