Material Girl

Mattel’s New Bald Barbie Doll, and More Controversial Barbies (PHOTOS)

Mattel is daring to tweak its winning formula with a hairless Barbie. See versions of the doll that sparked controversy.

Known for her disproportional physical features, extensive wardrobe with accessories to match, and waist-length, luxurious locks, Barbie has been the quintessential child’s plaything for more than 50 years. Now Mattel is daring to tweak its winning formula by creating a hairless doll.


In December of last year, two mothers launched a campaign for Mattel to create Beautiful and Bald Barbie to show girls that there are different standards of beauty and to raise awareness about diseases that can cause young girls to lose their hair. Mattel responded that they “receive hundreds of passionate requests for various dolls to be added to our collection”—essentially dismissing the women.

But it looks as if they changed their mind. Mattel just announced that they will in fact be creating the doll early next year, but instead of selling it along with their regular collection, they will donate it to children’s hospitals and other medical centers around the world. “We made the decision not to sell these dolls at retail stores and profit from them, but rather more directly and immediately get these into the hands of children who can most benefit from a play experience with these dolls” Mattel spokesman Alan Hilowitz said.

A bald Barbie will surely raise awareness about a meaningful cause—unlike some other dolls Mattel has produced over the years. From McDonald’s Barbie to Pooper Scooper Barbie to Cat Burglar Barbie, see our list of the most outrageous versions of the doll that have actually hit the shelves.

Pregnant Barbie

Complete with a removable child in her stomach, this doll taught young girls about one of the fundamental benefits of being a woman: childbirth. But don’t be alarmed—this doll is all about promoting family values. Look closely and you’ll see a small wedding ring on her left hand. However, this doll did not hit stores in 2002 without controversy. Some parents thought a pregnant doll was too “real” for their children, so the doll was pulled from shelves later that year.

Pooper-Scooper Barbie

Barbie has made some interesting career moves over the decades, but her gig as a pooper-scooper preceded her days as a flight attendant and player for the WNBA. Strangely, the dog biscuits Barbie fed Tanner, her golden retriever, came out the other end looking exactly the same. Mattel recalled the product in 2006, just one year after its release date, when magnets from the scooper came loose and became a choking hazard. Overall, a complete failure.


Growing Up Glam Dolls

How this doll was approved for production continues to be one of the world’s great mysteries. Its predecessor, pubescent Growing Up Skipper, was released in 1975 and was hit with harsh reviews from audiences. In 2007, Mattel created a figure reminiscent of this Skipper that was built to transform into a woman, just by pulling a switch on her back. Not only does she grow vertically, but the size of her chest doubles.


McDonald’s Worker Barbie

Although Big Macs don’t quite mesh with Barbie’s slim physique, Mattel released the McDonald’s worker Barbie in 1982—without paying much attention to the possibility that it promoted childhood obesity. Thankfully, this doll is no longer being mass-produced.

Sun Gold Malibu Barbie

With her bleached blonde hair and bright orange skin tone, we can only imagine what this doll, which was produced in 1983, would look like if she were still around today. Forget the sunscreen—Sun Gold Malibu Barbie taught young girls the allure of being the deepest shade of orange. Unfortunately, Mattel didn’t see the danger in glorifying excessive sun exposure to young children.

Cool Shavin’ Ken

Barbie’s male companion Ken is far from rugged, but this pretty boy won’t be getting kissed by Barbie without a clean shave. Introduced in 1996 and complete with comb, shaving cream, “Old Spice play bottle,” and an after-shave-scented face, this Ken doll was all about maintenance.

Camping Barbie

The first version of Camp Barbie was launched in 1994—and  compared to other dolls in Mattel’s collections, it actually sounds like it could have been a good idea. But this doll is dressed in pink platform wedges, Capri pants, and a saucy pink top and comes with a pink plastic chair.

Teen Talk! Barbie

Mattel wasn’t looking to bust any stereotypes when it created the Teen Talk! Barbie in July 1992. “Will I ever have enough clothes?” and “Wanna have a pizza party?” are two of the 270 phrases this doll could utter. But evidently “Math is tough!” was too much for some women’s groups, which claimed the statement reinforced negative labels of girls being mathematically challenged. The dolls that could speak this phrase were subsequently pulled from shelves three months after their release.

Barbie Loves Makeup Doll

Many children are told that beauty comes from the inside, but according to this Barbie, it might not. The Barbie Loves Makeup doll, which is surprisingly still on the market, boasts an array of gender-specific makeup colors and glittery lip glosses and promises hours of beautifying fun.

Cat Burglar Barbie

A Barbie that can steal cats? A Barbie who burglarizes people’s homes in a cat suit? We have no idea. This collector’s edition was created by Christian Louboutin in 1999 and was on sale only for a limited time.