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Ken (Barbie)

Ken (lesser known full name Ken Carson) is a toy doll in Mattel's Barbie line of fashion dolls.

History

  • Since 1961, this fictional character has been going steady with America's most beloved doll, and has changed quite drastically over the years to keep up with his famous other half. In February, 2004, Mattel announced a split for the couple, with Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, saying that Barbie and Ken "feel it's time to spend some quality time - apart." This made headline news and was discussed on countless blogs on the world wide web. In an article entitled, "Barbie and Ken: History," by Eric Olsen, the end of the 43-year-old romance was the topic in question. In February, 2006 however, a revamped version of the Ken doll was launched, and it appeared that their relationship was official again.

Ken's best friend, Allan Sherwood, was introduced in 1964. He is not to be confused with Alan, who was introduced in 1990 and married Barbie's friend, Midge. The first African-American male doll was introduced in 1981, in contrast to Barbie's African-American friend, Christie, who was introduced in 1968.

From 1961 to the debut of Superstar Ken in 1977, Barbie's arm-candy featured straight arms and a head that could only turn left and right. For the first year of his existence, Ken's luscious felt mane rivaled that of Barbie's; however, as his hair was prone to falling off once it was wet, Mattel introduced a new, plastic haircut for Ken. Superstar Ken featured a dimpled smile, a head that could swivel, bent arms, a more muscular physique, and jewelry. He also had underwear permanently molded to his body. As talk about his girlfriend's disproportionate body and unreal beauty standards spread with increasing intensity throughout the years, Ken tended to be left on the back burner as the boyfriend with the molded-on plastic underwear that no one talked about. However, if one takes into consideration Ken's equally disproportionate physique, it is not difficult to realize how Ken also poses unreal standards for the male anatomy. Yale University psychologist, Kelly Brownell, PhD, recently noted that to size up to what Barbie looks for in a mate, "a man would have to grow 20 inches taller and add nearly 8 inches to his neck circumference, 11 inches to his chest and 10 inches to his waist to resemble the muscular Ken."

In 1993 a version of the doll was released called Earring Magic Ken. The style of the doll was said to resemble popular fashions among some segments of the gay community at the time, which caused the doll to attain a cult following. Though it is not well known, Ken has held at least 40 occupations, from Olympic gold medalist (1974, 1997), to hair stylist (1991, 1992, 1999).

Marketing

In 2006, the California Barbie doll dumped Ken for a Cali Boy name Blaine. When this happened, Ken markets plummeted. Only did a famous shirt line, saying "Barbie Hearts Ken" with "Hearts" crossed out and "Dumped" Inked in save Mattel. Ken dolls are still being sold as "Barbie's Boyfriend." Blaine dolls have ceased.

References

The ken and barbie gene encoding a putative transcription factor with a BTB domain and three zinc finger motifs functions in terminalia development of Drosophila. Lukacsovich T, Yuge K, Awano W, Asztalos Z, Kondo S, Juni N, Yamamoto D. Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2003 Oct;54(2):77-94.'

"Barbie and Ken: History." Olsen, Eric. Blog Critics. {http://blogcritics.org/archives/2004/02/15/130739.php} 15 February, 2004.

"How do Barbie and Ken Measure Up?" Berg-Cross, Linda. Psychotherapy Letter. Apr96, Vol. 8 Issue 4, p3, 1/3p. {http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9604241835&site=ehost-live}

Mattel History. 2001 Mattel Inc.

External links

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