Bald is beautiful: Special Barbie doll ‘Ella’ inspires kids with cancer

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Ella has no hair and wears wigs.  You won’t see her in stores, though — she’s a Barbie doll made exclusively for children who are battling cancer in hospitals.

Mattel introduced Ella, Friend of Barbie in 2012, and distributed the doll directly to hospitals.

The mother of a patient learned her daughter’s hospital was running out of dolls, and learned this was common at many hospitals that had been distributing Ella dolls to patients.  Melissa Bumstead urged Mattel to make more, because she saw how Ella helped her daughter, Grace, understand her baldness is beautiful.

Grace has a rare form of leukemia and must undergo high doses of chemotherapy over the next year, reports.

Mattel says it will produce more of the Ella dolls and send them to hospitals nationwide.


  • Gordon Mahathey

    Here is an email were I contacted Mattel back in 2012 because a lot of Santa’s were asking about this. I also contacted Hasbro to see if they would make a super hero for the boys, and they said no.
    I hope this will help.

    Love Santa Gordon Mahathey
    Breast Cancer Survivor

    From: Mattel Consumer Service []
    Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 9:00 AM
    Subject: In Reference to Case Number: 21238140

    We’re so glad you contacted us!

    It’s the enthusiasm you expressed that keeps us inspired to create toys that children love, parents value, and we know are made with the highest standards of design, quality and safety.

    We are pleased to say that this year we will be producing a fashion doll, Ella Friend of Barbie which will include wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories. Through a thoughtful approach, we made the decision not to sell these dolls at retail stores, but rather get the dolls directly into the hands of children who can most benefit from the unique play experience, demonstrating Mattel’s ongoing commitment to encourage play as a respite for children in the hospital and to bring joy to children who need it most. We appreciate the conversation around this issue, and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    We will continue to work hard to make sure that you enjoy Mattel’s products for years to come!

    Thanks again,
    Donna D.
    Mattel Consumer Relations Team

    Here is the response I received from Mattel on how to obtain the dolls.

    —– Original message —–
    From: “Mattel Consumer Service‎”
    To: “‘’‎”
    Subject: In Reference to Case Number: 21238140
    Date: Jan 23, 2014 2:01 PM

    Hi Santa Gordon!

    Thanks for contacting us! We really appreciate your enthusiasm for our brand and for helping to share our message regarding the Ella, Friend of Barbie doll! Here is some information that you can pass on to your fellow Santas:

    Mattel has produced a fashion doll that includes wigs, hats, scarves and other fashion accessories to provide girls with a traditional fashion play experience. For those girls who choose, the wigs and head coverings can be interchanged or completely removed. These dolls, named Ella Friend of Barbie, will be distributed exclusively to children’s hospitals and other hospitals treating children with cancer throughout the U.S. and Canada, directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss and will not be available through any retail outlet.

    Mattel 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. This decision demonstrates Mattel’s commitment to encourage play as a respite for children in the hospital and bring joy to children in need. Mattel’s ongoing commitment to extending play to children occurs through our dedicated support of a variety of children’s organizations and needs through a multitude of philanthropic activities

    The dolls will be donated in the U.S. and Canada through the Children’s Hospital Association, with whom Mattel has a long standing relationship, as well as through CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. Dolls will also be donated to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. The dolls will be ready for donation and distribution by the end of January 2013.

    We distribute these dolls exclusively to the Children’s Hospital Association, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation; and they distribute the dolls to the children who need them the most. Hope this helps and good luck!

    Best regards,

    Whitney S.
    Mattel Consumer Relations Team

  • Angela Gray

    i was borned with a club foot and my first cast was put on when I was 6 wks old, I continued having to have cast or braces till I was 6 then graduated to corrective shoes, I couldn’t run and play like the other kids, so my best friends were my little sister and my barbie dolls, so I know how comforting they can be when you are not able to run and jump and play like all the rest of the kids, I hope you do make more, cause they could be a little girls best friend and be of great comfort. Thank you.

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