Ken has gotten a makeover, but not everyone is happy about it. In the latest liberal assault on gender roles, the new dolls feature diverse, colorful outfits that are a far cry from the teenage masculinity exhibited by previous incarnations of Barbie’s plastic boyfriend. The dolls also come in a range of skin tones and hairstyles that mirror the changes made to Barbie dolls last year, reports the Los Angeles Times.
While many people are happy about these changes, I can’t help but wonder what is behind them. The Los Angeles Times reports that the motive may simply be profit, stating that after Mattel introduced the new diverse Barbie dolls last year, their doll sales rose seven percent from the previous year. Perhaps they are simply trying to replicate the financial success they attained last year. But could there be another motive?
The New Ken Dolls
According to the Los Angeles Times, there is a total of 15 new Ken dolls, with two new body types, six new molded hairstyles, and seven new skin tones. One of the new body types is called “broad,” and has a slightly thicker abdomen, which some are comparing to the “dad bod” trend. The dolls are dressed in patterned, pastel outfits with complex, trendy hairstyles, including the man bun. Even Twitter users who do not seem to be concerned about this issue call attention to it with on-point jokes.
Were any straight men consulted in designing the new Ken dolls' outfits? pic.twitter.com/LFSdj4McyD— Sophie Vershbow (@svershbow) June 21, 2017
Don't know what Mattel is doing here - The new Ken dolls look more girly that the Barbie dolls! Frightening! pic.twitter.com/66xk74YNA1— Liney (@LineyRvS) June 21, 2017
Although girls are the primary marketing target, this change will still affect gender roles since little girls may think that the “ideal” man should be the effeminate image portrayed by the new Ken dolls. This change, along with the changes made to Barbie last year, also calls into question the concept of an “ideal” look and body type, which is crucial for supporting healthy attitudes around food and exercise.
Is This All About The Money Or Part Of Something Bigger?
According to NPR, Mattel’s sales fell 13 percent in this year’s first quarter, dropping sales to a mere $123 million, compared to last year’s $141 million. This new line of Ken dolls could simply be a bid to recapture profits. But according to statements made by Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager of Barbie, this decision may be more than profit-driven. In a press release, McKnight stated the following.
“We are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation”
Looking at other trends in the media, this statement makes sense. There has been a large push for “diversity” among the liberal-dominated media industries. Whether it is casting non-white actors in movies with white book characters or drilling into our brains that obese women like Tess Holiday and Ashley Graham are attractive, there is definitely an agenda of “inclusion” and “equality of outcome” at work.
The new Ken dolls may seem innocent, but they are yet another piece of the puzzle of our collapsing American society.
[Featured Image by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]