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Cancer survivors petition online for bald Barbie

NEW YORK - Barbie has been an astronaut, an architect, a Nascar driver, and a news anchor.

Now, there's an online movement to get her to attempt what could be her biggest feat yet: going bald to fight cancer.

A Facebook page titled "Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let's see if we can get it made" was started a few days before Christmas. By Wednesday afternoon, the page had almost 17,000 fans. The goal is to get toy maker Mattel Inc. to create a bald Barbie in support of children with cancer, alopecia or trichotillomania.

On the official Facebook page for the group, the moderators say that they think that the doll would be a great way to help children who suffer from these diseases or know someone who does cope with the changes. They add they would like to see a portion of the proceeds go to childhood cancer research and treatment.

Friends Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, who live on opposite coasts but have both been affected by the disease, hatched the idea for the social media movement because Barbie is an influential children's toy.

Bingham has lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments to treat lymphoma. Sypin's 12-year-old daughter, Kin Inich, also lost her hair this year in her own battle to treat leukemia.

The Facebook page has been flooded with support from users, including some from parents whose children fought or are still fighting cancer.

User Prayers for Allie wrote, "My little girl who is battling Leukemia wants to feel beautiful too. She is 3-yrs-old (sic) and already battling with self image issues about her hair."

"This is perfect for young children who have lost their hair especially (because) at that age, even when they are not sick, they are just learning to recognize the diffeences (sic) between others: what a man looks like, what a woman looks like and what is acceptable."

Mattel didn't return calls on Wednesday seeking comment, but the women said they have contacted the company through some general form letters. In return, they said, they've received form letters that say Mattel doesn't accept ideas from outside sources.

Barbie, all 11.5 inches of her, is one of the best-known toys of all time. She can sell for $10 at Wal-Mart or $7,000 on eBay. She's taken on all sorts of incarnations throughout her nearly 53 years of existence, crushing stereotypes and showing little girls that they can be whatever they want to be. There's been an elegant Grace Kelly Barbie; a Barbie in thigh-high pink boots; a tattooed Barbie; a pregnant Barbie friend, and another Barbie friend in a wheelchair.

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