The Ken doll has been updated and he comes now in a broad range of skin tones, body shapes, and hairstyles, like, well, a man-bun.
Last year, Mattel unveiled a whole new crew of Barbies that included curvier, taller and more petite versions of the stereotypical blonde blue-eyed doll. But Ken remained the same as he has been since the ‘60s. Everybody was wondering, what about him? What about the unrealistic body standard the doll imposed to men?
So now Mattel is welcoming 15 new Ken dolls to the still-expanding Barbie family. You can now find the male doll with seven different skin tones – freckles included – and new body shapes that include “original,” “slim” and “broad.” New hairstyles have been incorporated as well. You can find an African-American Ken sporting a hip cornrow hairstyle, the bleach blonde Ken, or if you’re feeling hipster, Ken with a man-bun.
The new Ken dolls are part of Mattel’s Fashionistas line
The announcement of the new millennial Ken dolls came with the release of a whole crew of new members of Mattel’s line of Barbie Fashionistas. This includes 40 new dolls with diverse body sizes and a bunch of different skin tones, hair colors, and hairstyles.
There’s even a black beauty with a huge afro, a stylish chic sporting a shaved head à-la-Amber Rose, a dude with a pair of silver sunglasses – that looks like he has just been out of Jersey Shore, if I may say –, and many more dolls.
Introducing the New Crew–the most diverse Fashionistas lineup to date–offering even more skin tones, eye colors, hairstyles, and fashions for Barbie and Ken! With 3 body types for Ken: broad, slim, and original, fans have more choices for the ultimate storytelling experience. #TheDollEvolves Click the link in our bio to shop the dolls!
However, this is not the first time the doll has switched up his look. Invented in 1961, different versions of Barbie’s beau have been released, like the African American Ken in 1981, and who could forget Earring Magic Ken in 1993, which became a big seller among gay men.
In 2004, the company announced that the couple had split up, and took separate ways. Barbie dumped him to be with Australian surfer Blaine, while Ken kept reinventing himself in an effort to get his blonde sweetheart back. They finally got back together in 2011, and have remained like that ever since.
Barbie Fashionista is an attempt of the company to increase sales
You could see this as a natural flow of things – a late one if you ask me – but it’s actually Mattel’s trying to save the business. The diversity pushes the toy company has been putting its dolls through comes after reports that say that Barbie sales had declined 13% in the first quarter of 2017.
Last year, after the new Barbies were added, the Barbie sales increased 7% from the previous year. So the company is expecting that the Ken move will work the same way.
Some experts say the release of the new Ken dolls and expanding the Barbie Fashionista line with dolls that are all about the latest trend will definitely help. Others say that things will stay the same, as kids are now more into other dolls, but especially electronic toys.
The new dolls will be in toy stores later this year, and I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely in with the man-bun.