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June 1st, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Human Factor: Why bald is beautiful

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week, mother, photographer and cancer survivor Jane Bingham, shares her story about how she is working to reduce the stigma of baldness women and children.

The bad news: I have an incurable type of cancer.

The good news: My experiences with living with cancer inspired me to do things I never thought I would do.

I began The Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let's see if we can get it made Facebook page. It was the main force and inspiration behind two major toy companies' production of bald fashion dolls for children who live with baldness due to chemotherapy, alopecia, trichotillomania or other conditions, while also raising money for pediatric cancer research and awareness of these conditions. 

I have now turned The Beautiful and Bald Movement into a non-profit with a mission to remove the stigma of women and children who are living with hair loss to be able to go in public without hiding the fact that they are bald.  We spread love, support, comfort and help build self-esteem of bald children and women all over the world with free Dome Decorating Packages.  These packages contain things to decorate their heads, bring a smile to their face and comfort to their hearts. 

The desire to help support others who have lost their hair has spread to my two teenage sons who shaved their heads into mohawks so people would stare at them instead of me, starting a movement called Mohawks for Mom

My hope is to continue make good things come from a bad experience: To focus my energy on helping others instead of feeling sorry for myself, and to spread the love that God has put in my heart to others, crossing language barriers and borders.

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Filed under: Cancer • Human Factor

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Sue Petersen

    I applaud you. You took and idea you had, a dream really and you made it happen. Not to many people can say that. Not only have you put your heart and soul into this so that kids dealing with hair loss can be more comfortable in their own skin, you did it while undergoing chemo yourself. The days when you were tired, you didn't give up. The days when you were sick you didn't give up. The days when you thought it might not work but you didn't let that stop you from trying. All of these days, you tested your strength and made it happen. Then you took it a step further with your Dome Decorating packages. YOU are amazing and an inspiration Jane Bingham. Thank you.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jennifer

      Anything that can help a person during a difficult time is a blessing. I work with a little girl who was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, these dolls make her feel "normal" and they are something to bring a smile to her face. Even my sister who is stage 4 with breast cancer and bone mets LOVE the idea of this. Your kindness, selflessness will not go unnoticed!

      June 6, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
  2. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Inspiring...

    June 1, 2012 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Glicker

      One should question the safety of drugs that dause hair loss.

      June 3, 2012 at 03:37 | Report abuse |
    • Mark Glicker

      One should question the safety of drugs that cause hair loss.

      June 3, 2012 at 03:38 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Mark – one should question NOT using these drugs – they saved my life

      June 4, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      eeekk!! we aren't at the hair cutting phase yet! i dread this day athlough i know it is a rite of passage for any child, right??right now we are into naked barbies, but i manipulated our truth :)well, not so much- we also do love our barbies. lol

      August 1, 2012 at 19:14 | Report abuse |
  3. SokrMom

    Bald is beautiful because hair-growth drugs are very, very dangerous for pregnant women. You might think that pregnant women and these drugs don't come into contact, but they do, particularly if the drug is topical (a cream that is applied to the head). These kinds of hair-loss drugs can cause very serious birth defects (and lots of men think losing their hair is a more significant issue than birth defects).

    June 1, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Fladabosco

    In a situation where many people would give up or give in you are making your life worthwhile. It's beautiful.. Thank you.

    June 2, 2012 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. axkick

    My husband is bald and beautiful

    June 2, 2012 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 1byrd

    Bald Barbie. Fine. Now how about Achondroplagic Barbie (most common form of dwarfism), Acrpmegely Barbie (giantism), Downes Syndrome Barbie, Anorexia Barbie, Mastectomy Barbie, Paraplegic Barbie...........

    June 2, 2012 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mema

      Some pe©ole can not see the kindness of a selfless act. She was inspired by her own experi€nces. What inspires y©u? Based on y©ur post nothing. Y©u knit pick oth€rs kindness yet do n©thing y©urself to make things happen. I applaud her for her courage and thoughfullness despite her own challenges. God bless her.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
    • Muhryeuh

      Why would you want a barbie for anorexia? It's a self-mutilating disease born from insecurity and emotional weakness...and if I may make an observation, according to barbie's proportions, she already IS anorexic.

      June 3, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • james

      Your point is well taken. This entire thing is ridiculous beyond belief!

      June 3, 2012 at 19:07 | Report abuse |
    • doc

      Sort of dweebish to make a comment like that. They already make a Barbie for you; the " I have no feelings Barbie" – poke me with pins...

      June 4, 2012 at 08:37 | Report abuse |
    • 1byrd

      ............... Amputee Barbie, Club Foot Barbie, Thalidomide Barbie, Blind Barbie, Hirsuit Barbie, Bow-Legged Barbie, Double-Jointed Barbie, Facial Deformity Barbie.......... gushingly, patronizingly, smugly sensitive Barbie. Oh. That's the readers, not the doll....

      June 4, 2012 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
    • Elspeth

      Dork. Baldness is a situation that effects up to 20 MILLION American women and is a disease that destroys self esteem and is not something that a woman causes (unlike anorexia). Barbie is all about fashion and looks...about beauty. For woman, hair is a significant aspect of personhood. This isn't about disability. It's about LOOKS AND SELF ESTEEM and LITTLE GIRLS.
      Unlike men, society, just like you, doesn't consider bald women, or women losing their hair, "pretty". This campaign is about telling the world that hair isn't all it's cracked up to be.

      But brains are and clearly you don't have any

      June 5, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • 1byrd

      LipsBeth: You assume (a) I'm a man and (b) I think bald women are not attractive. Ya know what they say about ass-uming, eh, there LipsBeth? And do ya think (good question...) that all the other maladies I named have no effect on ones self-esteem? Oh so sensitive to others' afflictions, aren't we.... Methinks ones intelligence is on full display. Better that you remain silent that confirm the worst....

      June 5, 2012 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
  7. I. L. Carmichael

    Dear Jane and family...
    I would like to send you a copy or copies of a card that I designed and have left at my oncologist office and at Garden in The Woods, Harvard, MA. I was inspired by the Garden Goddess sculpture my neighbors created for their yard. This "Beautiful Lady" holds a torch that lights up in the evening. She is fashioned out of glass, pottery and bits of tile adhered to the armature of wood, wire, plastic and concrete and has a smooth sparkling head. After I photographed her, I sat and wrote a poem that seemed to just pour out of me, which is also part of the card. I would very much like to share it with you and your daughter. Thank you for your important contribution to the world of dolls.....A doll or sculpture without hair can help people of all ages begin to understand that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and we need to view others with our hearts not with our minds. Lorrie

    June 2, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dave

    I applaud both you and the article you have written. One important thing you have left out, men. Hair loss in men can have a devastating impact on one's self esteem despite the fact that it is more acceptable in society for men to lose their hair. It doesn't make it any less painful and just a minimal amount of research into the matter on hair replacement therapies would have confirmed this fact.

    June 2, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • not an issue

      Most guys look great bald so long as they shave off any remnants. Combovers and leaving a small island of hair looks bad. Just shave it all off and don't look back. Baldness in men is caused by testosterone levels in susceptible individuals. Why are men ashamed of that?

      Why are men ashamed of the size of their sausages too? Not knowing how to use it or not knowing your partner is more than just a hole for your sausage is embarrassing. Stop worrying about appearance and for heaven's sake, just get educated about how to use the parts you have and how to please your partner!

      June 2, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
    • cosmicsnoop

      I lost most of my hair and I do not know what you are talking about it being devastating. Whatever, it is as it is. I couldn't be bothered to go through what's necessary to try to grow it back. I'm totally hairy everywhere else, so I have more than enough, I can afford to lose some. And to "not an issue", I don't shave it all off because, like I said, I'm totally hairy and I do not have the time to shave my head everyday. What is left grows like crazy as always. I don't even like shaving my face everyday, it's a chore, so I have half a beard or a goatee or something going always. I could shave right now and in 10 hours I'll have stubble. People need to just live with themselves. If you have plastic surgery, in spite of what you may think, it's obvious and you look a little plastic. Just accept yourselves.

      June 2, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
    • x277

      I would guess that most men don't care about losing their hair, its certain women that tend to judge them or look at them in a negative light when they do lose their hair. As soon as a woman's boyfriend/husband starts to go bald, a lot of these women want the man to do something about it or they threaten to leave them.

      June 4, 2012 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
  9. More than an Issue

    I've noticed that many bald guys compensate by making sure they continue to decorate themselves with hair in other places. If you take pride and joy in having inches worth of pit hair, so be it!!!! It's certainly a beauty.

    June 2, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John-117

      Men with hair do the same thing. Its called maintenance.

      June 3, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  10. N_Clark

    There have been some movie characters and celebrities that have gone bald not due to an illness, but for a role, or fashion statement. Bald can certainly be beautiful – I'm thinking of that older Star Wars film with the bald actress, or Sinead O'Conner back in the 80s, or there's a model who is bald but I believe has a tattoo on her head. Nothing to be ashamed of – take advantage of it to incorporate it into your personal fashion statement, just as you would a hairstyle.

    June 2, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John-117

      Saying bald is beautiful is bull. People only say that to make others feel better about being unattractive. Its associated with bad health and genes. Nobody would choose to go bald.

      June 3, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
  11. NeighborhoodTrainer

    I haven't paid for a haircut in almost 20 years. That's the part I don't miss. I do miss my hair, but those drugs are not worth the risks associated with takig them.

    June 2, 2012 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. carlos carion

    I'm going to buy somes dolls. Pass them on to my friends. hope you find a cure and live a long happy life, your daughter is a golden child.

    June 2, 2012 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mark

    Life isn't fair, baldness is proof. But the real proof of life's unfairness is cancer in kids!

    June 3, 2012 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chefdugan

      I'd r ather be bald than fat! Being both is the height of ugliness.

      June 4, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  14. annebeth

    Bald can be very sexy on a woman. The first Star Trek Movie featured actress Persis Khambatta as Lieutenant Ilia, the bald Deltan alien. She was just stunning and was an unforgettable person.

    June 3, 2012 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John-117

      Baldness is NEVER sexy on a woman. What kid of man wants to get it on with a women who looks like a man?

      June 3, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • doughnuts

      It only worked because Persis was extremely beautiful to start with.

      June 4, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  15. A. DeCicco

    Way to go! As a man in my 30's it's hard enough going bald. No one, least of all someone is sick, should be ashamed of the way they look!

    June 3, 2012 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • james

      Being bald is nothing to be ashamed of, but it's also nothing to be proud of. It simply is (and, yes, I am very close to being bald).

      June 3, 2012 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
  16. Oodoodanoo

    I'm getting my daughter a Comb-Over Barbie.

    June 3, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. John-117

    Wheres the male pattern baldness Ken doll?

    June 3, 2012 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. mikithinks

    Bald is beautiful because men start gpmg ba;d about the time they starting earning more money. Money just makes people flatter. Rick Scott, Governor of Florida. calls himself, "the good looking bald guy". He just looks like a turtle.

    June 3, 2012 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. JUGGERNAUT

    BALD ONLY LOOKS GOOD ON BLACK GUYS.

    IT LOOKS WEIRD ON WHITE GUYS.

    June 4, 2012 at 01:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. jdoe

    Baldness is what it is. The only problem is that people decide to be unhappy about it.

    June 4, 2012 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. x277

    Funny, women say bald is beautiful on a woman, but when some of these same women's man goes bald, they want to leave them.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. WLM

    I shaved my hair completely off. Wore it like that for a year. Everyone said I was so beautiful and I felt amazing with no hair. I am not growing it back but I would have not problem doing it again. I suppose since I can grow it back being bald doesnt faze me.. but I applaud the person who followed thru on her dream! Its amazing!

    June 4, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. doughnuts

    It isn't.

    June 4, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Laura

    Some of the above comments are shocking. This is intended to help someone who is suffering. Suffering is not a choice and if a Barbie can help them for even an hour, it is a good thing. Just because this Barbie covers only one thing, it does not mean that no one cares about other cosmetic issues, this one is close to Jane's heart, why should she not try and help others in this situation?? I am 29, a week ago I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and all the crap you have to go through to survive is bad enough, without losing the ability to control how you look. How a child can deal with this is beyond me, they are amazing and I think this is a wonderful idea! I hope I come out the other end as inspired as Jane. Do not listen to the negative comments, you are helping someone on the back of your suffering, I doubt they will ever be able to say they have done the same.

    June 6, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reiko

      Love that third one down especially! I'm sttiing here with Ellie, going through your pictures and she is loving it. All these sweet babies! Your pictures are so beautiful Dia they make my heart happy.

      August 2, 2012 at 03:54 | Report abuse |

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