Recently, I came across the story of a young girl named Chloe, a 14-year-old trichster who was giving away a number of MGA Entertainment’s “True Hope” bald Bratz dolls. Ironically, it was in the dermatillomania Facebook groups that the posts I saw were shared, but it immediately caught my attention and I began reading.
I found out that when Chloe was 12, she created a Youtube video about her trichotillomania. It was the kind of video in which there is only music and the subject holds up cards that have been written on to tell the story, which is a popular trend and many of these videos go viral to some degree. Chloe’s was no exception. Her video, which told of her story with trich and used the song “Skin” by Sixx:A.M. caught the attention of media and even the band itself. Because of this, she’s had the opportunity to use her story to spread awareness and to meet the band as well as several other celebrities. Somewhere along the way, she had become involved with the Bald and Beautiful Barbie Campaign, which aimed to have a bald Barbie created for little girls with cancer, alopecia and trich.
So I reached out to Chloe to find out just when that was and how she had become involved.
Chloe says she found the Bald and Beautiful Barbie Campaign online when it was only around 100 members strong. Not only that, but at the time she came across it, the campaign was only geared towards cancer and alopecia, and it was because of Chloe and her mom contacting the creators of the campaign, Beckie Bonifassi and Jane Bingham, that trich was added. Chloe told me that after hearing her story and about trich, they realized that it was also an important cause and added it right away.
With Chloe on board, they were able to reach new people and a larger audience in general. Because of her already viral video, Chloe had gained a fair-sized following, so when she started making videos about the campaign, many of her followers started supporting it as well.
While Barbie did end up creating a bald doll, Ella, this doll was given exclusively to cancer patients in hospitals. Not to mention that so few were made and given out that they will likely be collector’s items and not played with at all, which is counterproductive to the campaign’s aims.
It was MGA Entertainment, creator of Bratz and Moxie dolls, that really stepped up to the plate in 2012 with their “True Hope” line. They came out with six dolls total: three girls and three boys. They came with bravery bracelets, akin to the bravery beads children get every time they undergo cancer treatment, and also hats, bandanas and scarves.
While the creators of the page and the supporters of the campaign wanted the dolls made for all three causes, cancer is the main advertised cause for the dolls. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that mentions alopecia or trichotillomania in articles about the dolls and in their advertising, which is marked with the cancer awareness ribbon and a notice that says it donates one dollar from every sale to the City of Hope Cancer Foundation. But MGA acknowledges alopecia and trich in its causes; Chloe told me that MGA agreed to make the dolls “to help make baldness in women and children from any cause more socially acceptable.”
I had personally heard of these dolls before, but have only ever seen the cancer advertisements and had no idea that they were also inspired by these other causes. I remember always feeling disappointed that trichotillomania wasn’t mentioned with these bald dolls, and was surprised to hear otherwise.
I asked Chloe how she felt about cancer being the main and only advertised cause of the dolls, to which she responded, “My grandmother had breast cancer and I appreciate the importance of childhood cancer awareness, but it gets annoying having to constantly explain that not every bald person is sick.” I think that’s an especially great point and one that’s probably not always thought about. And when adults don’t think about these things, then they cannot pass them to their children to think about. A great opportunity to spread awareness of several other causes is being missed.
Which is highlighted by the fact that when Chloe began giving away the dolls she had received from MGA for free, many trichsters and parents of children with trichotillomania didn’t know the dolls even existed before then. While the trichsters and their parents in this case seemed to know of the disorder beforehand and had simply not heard about the dolls, if the dolls were advertised as being for trich as well, they may reach these children and more that may not even know the disorder exists. They may be thinking they’re alone and freaks. Maybe these dolls could show them differently.
Messages started pouring in when Chloe offered the dolls on her Facebook page; people shared their stories and hoped to get a doll for their child. When I asked Chloe how she was choosing who to send the dolls to, she said that everyone who asked received one, no matter what cause they were from. Only when the shipping was extremely expensive (which it was for shipping overseas) did she say no, but in those cases she pointed those people to where they could find the dolls to purchase.
At this point, all the dolls have been given away and the pictures have started to come in on Chloe’s Facebook page of the children with their new bald dolls. It’s great to see these children with dolls they can relate to, and their smiling faces say it all. People probably don’t think much of it, but the toys children play with can have a big impact on them and can play an important role in their lives.
That’s really what endeared me to this story. Chloe received these dolls and instead of trying to sell them or even keeping them for herself, she gave them away free of charge. No one was charged anything, not even shipping when these dolls were sent to them. I thought to myself, “what a great thing to do for people!” I also automatically figured that she must be a big advocate for trich; I was surprised by her response.
“Advocate is a bit of a strong word. I consider myself more of a person with said disorder and I don’t mind if people use my story, picture or videos to increase awareness/acceptance. I don’t really believe it’s my place to speak for everyone that has it though.”
Advocate or not, Chloe has helped bring a lot of awareness to trichotillomania. Whether it was by way of her own video that started it all for her, or by helping get the “True Hope” dolls made, the word of trich has reached so many more people. Maybe in the future more dolls and products will be made to bring awareness to these issues and make them less foreign.
One of the first questions I asked Chloe is if she had any advice for others with trich, and I thought it would be good to leave you with what she said. She responded by saying, “Do what’s right for you,” before adding, “I obviously can’t give advice on how to stop, as I am still bald! I am more about accepting and loving yourself.” Accepting yourself and loving yourself are sometimes big steps to take, but definitely doable if you really work toward it.
With more awareness in the future, that might become an easier task, and it is stories like these that help make waves.