Barbie’s Ken Has Gotten A Makeover And The Internet Is Making Much Ado — But What’s The Lesson? [Opinion]

Barbie’s beau has stolen her spotlight. Taking a page from the career-driven fashionista’s playbook, Ken is out to show the world that he can be just as versatile. He’s ditched his classic good looks and it’s causing quite a stir on the World Wide Web.

No longer blond-haired, blue-eyed, and chiseled, Ken is expanding his horizons and widening his appeal. He now shows off three body types, seven skin tones, nine hair styles, and a variety of fashion choices, giving the brand’s following a choice of 15 dolls to place at Barbie’s side. Like Barbie, Ken can be anything he wants (the world’s best dad, successful owner of the next Silicon Valley start-up, or a life-lovin’, chilled-out hipster dude) and sport any look while doing so — and he is quite fashionable, with his cornrows, dad-bod, skinny suits, and thick-framed glasses.

Mattel’s move to make the Ken doll more diverse comes after the recognition that “It is time to reinvent this company because of where the world is headed,” said Mattel CEO Margo Georgiadis in an interview with Fortune. “As an industry, we all are challenged to do things differently,” she continued. Among the things Mattel wants to change is the link between playtime and education because, the Fortune article goes on, “with decades of insights into how toys can benefit childhood development, the toy maker could do more to link their brands with education.”

In today’s world where diversity and inclusivity are touted but, many times, hard to come by, an important part of our children’s education is understanding and acceptance. Mattel’s moves to make the Barbie brand’s dolls more diverse (remember 2016’s expansion of Barbie’s looks?) are a step in the right direction, and the public response to the news of Ken’s makeover has blown up the internet. Articles abound and the conversation on social media is never-ending. After all, Barbie and Ken’s relationship was a big part of many of our childhoods. Some of us even planned (and hosted) their weddings.

However, the internet is having a field day with his new looks, particularly the man-bun. Sometimes dressed in a blue tribal-print shirt and denim cut-offs, with his hair safely secured at the top of his head, he’s become the butt of many jokes.

However, some of the men he’s been modeled after aren’t pleased (just click, scroll down, and read the comments). Words like “stigmatised,” “sexist,” and “objectification of men” are being used to describe the humor directed at Ken’s bold choice of hair style.

While some may describe the internet banter as negative, fans could also look at it as another teaching opportunity that Mattel has opened up — this one on sensitivity and is meant for adults. Do we stop being so sensitive and learn how to take a joke or be more sensitive when it comes to the things we say to and about other people?

Either way, now that he’s decked out for just about any lifestyle (all of which many can identify with), Ken has the world at his feet and no one could be happier or more poised for success.

[Featured Image by Mattel]