Barbie manufacturers Mattel has created a doll with no hair. The company wanted to show a 'multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion' with its new series. First launched in 1959, the Barbie doll has been criticised for promoting a narrow, unrealistic idea of beauty. However, the Barbie Fashionistas range has been seen as an attempt to change this.
“The variety offered is designed to inspire girls to tell more stories and find a doll that speaks to them,” Mattel said. “Over the past five years, the line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them.”
The doll with no hair will be available later this year. So is the company creating headlines to raise awareness of hair loss or are they using the stigma of hair loss to create headlines for their products?
The Stigma of Hair Loss
Hair loss is a challenging subject and can affect people in many different ways. While it is accepted for men to be bald, women's hair loss is not often discussed, often leaving women experiencing feelings of shame and helplessness. The staggering facts are that 40% of women have visible hair loss by the time they’re 40.
People create confidence and self-esteem from their hair and when they lose even a little bit, if their character and confidence is based on that, they're going to have severe emotional and psychological impacts.
Female hair loss can arise for many reasons: Stress and autoimmune conditions (immune system attacks cells); extreme dieting/exercising and weight loss; or an underlying deficiency or medical condition. Even how the hair is styled — in tight ponytails/braids — can put prolonged traction on the hair follicle (‘traction Alopecia’).
Alopecia Areata can affect anyone of any age or gender, and how deeply it affects a person completely depends on the individual. Many women find it extremely hard due to the stigma that still remains around female hair loss. It is often assumed that it must be so much worse for women, but actually men can suffer equally as much and can struggle to come to terms with the drastic, and often sudden, change to their appearance. Whereas there are further challenges faced by women as it can be harder to face the world with a bald head, society is familiar with seeing bald men.
Awareness of Alopecia is key to making it easier for those with the condition to live with their hair loss. It’s amazing the difference it can make simply knowing you’re not alone. The greater awareness of Alopecia, the fewer misconceptions when seeing a bald person and greater understanding of how many people are affected. Alopecia may not be life threatening but it can be life altering. Sometimes its just good to talk...
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