Mattel and Barbie recently launched a groundbreaking campaign announcing that Barbie, infamous for being perfect, will now be sold in a range of body shapes, heights, and skin colors.
However, for eight-year-old Jordyn Miller, this was not enough.
Miller was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and began to receive treatment for a malignant tumor. At only five years old, Miller’s peers told her she was ugly, and that she “looked like a boy in a girl’s dress,” her mother, Tarin Miller, told The Daily Telegraph.
Barbie’s picture-perfect body and made-up face had been an unrealistic portrayal of a young female who would typically be playing with the doll. With its new line of diverse dolls, Mattel has taken one step down the path of accuracy which will resonate with more girls across the world.
Girls like Miller, however, were left with one thought: what about people like us, who look different because of illness or disability? Those girls are not wrong. Barbie has overlooked many other aspects of diversity.
Miller, an Australian native, had heard tell of children hospitalized with cancer in America who had been given “Ella” to play with. Ella is a bald Barbie doll that comes with multiple wigs in addition to clothing. These dolls were distributed among many hospitals in the United States with a goal pretty unfamiliar to those who play with store-bought Barbie dolls. Ella’s goal was to make children feel more comfortable about their appearance.
Mattel is finally beginning to alter its goals and is getting a long overdue reality check. The company accepted the hard truth that not every girl — well, really no one, for that matter — has a body like Barbie. If it wanted its mission to be to teach girls to accept themselves, appearances and all, then it needed to make a change.
Another monumental step was taken when Mattel distributed Ella to cancer patients in the United States. But why stop there? Miller’s idea of expanding the joy Ella brought to American kids to those in Australia, is not a bad one. Children who are battling illness can use a confidence boost regardless of the country in which they live. No child should feel inferior or have lower self-confidence because of their appearance, and if Mattel chooses to open the eyes of children worldwide to the wide range of beauty, it would be sparking a monumental change.
By introducing Ella to toy shelves around the world, kids would get the chance to become more aware and have a better understanding of cancer and what it does to our bodies. With this level of understanding, Mattel would be helping reduce bullying among children with cancer — something Miller knows all too well.
Miller’s petition, which has already obtained more than 7,000 signatures, reached Mattel, which announced it would consider distributing Ella more widely, “as it is a cause [we] strongly believe in.”
Snaps to you, Mattel.