The company behind Barbie has undergone a major transformation in their new line of Ken dolls that feature 15 new looks for the traditionally macho, tall, blond, normatively attractive icon.
Toymaker Mattel's Ken dolls that now come in three different body types: broad, slim and original. There are new cultural tweaks, too: An African-American Ken comes with cornrows, an Asian Ken rocks a sharp, design-director look and another version of the figure sports a man bun (as does the current cover of the New Yorker).
"By continuing to expand our product line, we are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation," Lisa McKnight, Barbie's senior vice president and general manager, stated in a press release, according to ABC.
"Evolving Ken was a natural evolution for the brand and allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie's world."
From the original Ken doll, which debuted more than five decades ago sporting red swim trunks and cork sandals, to Dream Date Ken, released in 1984 and dressed in a sleek black jacket and bow tie for a night out with Barbie, Mattel has given the iconic doll some progressive looks to match the trends of the moment.
Yes, some of these very, very Millennial looks are worth a sharp snort and a good laugh. It all comes from a very good place, however.
Since the beginning of 2016 when the original Barbie received a complete makeover, Mattel has sought to expand the diversity of Barbie offerings both in body type, hair type, ethnicities and professions in an attempt to answer customer concerns and provide toys that more young girls (and boys) can see themselves in. Granted, the inclusion of man buns may not be a meaningful metric when it comes to questions of ethnic and cultural representation. Still, you can't fault them for at least trying.
Ten of the new dolls went sale Tuesday, according to ABC, and the remaining five models will be soon be available in coming months.