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You've heard of the pink ribbon. Now meet the bald doll.

A selection of bald Bratz dolls are being sold at Toys "R" Us stores in Canada in an effort to support children with cancer and to raise funds for a charitable organization. The idea is to create a product that can provide comfort to children going through cancer treatment or who have family members with cancer.

The dolls, branded the "True Hope" collection and marketed by MGA Entertainment Canada, are hairless and each comes with a hat, a second outfit and a beaded bracelet.

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"At MGA, our No. 1 priority is to help kids have fun just being kids," Diane Goveia-Gordon, president of MGA Entertainment Canada, said in a press release. "We hope children and their families battling serious illnesses will find strength and inspiration from the new True Hope Bratz collection."

The pitch sounds great. But check out the fine print. Only $1 from each doll sold – they retail for $19.99 – will go to the Starlight Children's Foundation Canada, which focuses on improving the quality of life of children with serious illnesses.

Yes, the company doesn't have to be doing anything for charity, but think about why, exactly, MGA Entertainment is undertaking this initiative. Why doesn't it just skip the campaign and donate all the money needed to make the dolls to charity? Or why not donate all the sales proceeds?

The "bald doll" movement actually came about as a result of an online campaign from a young cancer patient who wanted to see a bald Barbie. After hemming and hawing, Mattel finally complied, but only with 10,000 limited edition dolls that are being donated to U.S. hospitals. The company has been widely criticized for missing out on a great opportunity to make a difference and help children with cancer. Even the Vatican's official newspaper jumped on the bandwagon. The Bratz line is being praised because the dolls are widely available in retail stores. But does it deserve congratulations or some questions?

The biggest question is whether this effort is really dedicated to helping the cause, given that only a small portion of proceeds will go to charity. The criticisms are similar to those lobbied at the pink ribbon movement, in which products are branded in the colour pink while only a fraction of profits actually go to charity. The Pink Underbelly draws the comparison in a post written earlier this year that says "if MGA really wanted to be an 'active supporter' in pediatric cancer treatments and research, they'd donate more than $1 from the sale of each doll …"

The company told the Pink Underbelly it takes its responsibility to children "very seriously" and that the True Hope dolls are designed to give support and comfort to children.

But is the campaign really sending the right message?

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Editor's note: Mattel is donating its dolls to U.S. hospitals. Incorrect information was published in an earlier version.

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More


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