March 30, 2012 at 9:37 AM ET
Barbie is going bald.
After an online campaign urging toy-maker Mattel to create a hairless version of the iconic doll, Mattel announced on its Facebook page that a bald "friend of Barbie" is in the works.
The company says it will begin a limited distribution of the dolls next year through children's hospitals.
Advocates for a bald Barbie cheered the news, though some complained that the doll should be available in retail stores.
"If you're wanting to make a Barbie doll that's different, and you're wanting to show kids who are different that they can be different, why not show it to normal kids so that they can accept the different kids?" 15-year-old Olivia Rusk, who lost her hair due to alopecia, told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.
In its statement, Mattel said it made the decision to distribute the special-edition Barbie in hospitals in order to "get the dolls directly into the hands of children who can most benefit from the unique play experience."
On TODAY Friday, advertising expert Donny Deutsch called the move “fantastic.”
“You’ve got a sick child, there’s nothing worse in the world. All of a sudden a child that’s gone through treatment can say, ‘wow, I’m normal, there’s Barbies out there like me.’” Deutsch told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb.
He noted that Mattel “got a little slack because they didn’t put them in the stores, but, no, they did the right thing. It’s called direct marketing, target marketing, right there where they can be used, in the hospitals. You go, Mattel.”
In an interview before Mattel made its decision, Deanna Pledge, a psychologist working with children in Columbia, Mo., said that a bald Barbie might indeed be helpful.
"I think having an image of a bald child or bald adult -- whether it's Barbie or not -- does promote a positive message in the mainstream," she says. "And Barbie is clearly in the mainstream."
The Facebook campaign for a bald Barbie was led by a group of mothers who are either bald themselves due to chemotherapy, or have children dealing with hair loss due to chemotherapy, alopecia or other conditions. Their page has more than 150,000 "likes." And the movement isn't stopping with Barbie -- there's also a page urging Hasbro to make a bald GI Joe.
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