I’m Just Saying: Why does Barbie need Ken, anyway?

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 17, 2018

A friend of mine recently posted a rather funny meme on Facebook titled “Barbie at 55,” which showed the iconic blond doll sprawled on a couch with middle-aged spread, her over-dyed hair now brittle and tucked into pigtails, a tub of popcorn between her thighs and “cankles.”

Ye gods!

Now, I’m not going to make a blanket statement and declare this meme to be sexist, but I have to admit I’ve not seen a single such joke about Ken, who seems to still be hitting the gym five days a week, sports all his hair and retains washboard abs. Yes, while Barbie is seen drooping to the point that she’ll have to redo her mascara should she drive over a speed bump, Ken remains a gorgeous hunk of man-candy.

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(Except for the fact that Mattel neglected to give him a…you know. Which explains, remarked a comedian friend of mine, why Ken drives a Corvette.)

And if that’s not bad enough, when Mattel decided to give Ken an overhaul last summer by creating several different ethnicities of the doll — including a hipster one with a hair bun (probably living in his parents’ basement) and another with dreadlocks, as well as a rather nerdy looking Clark Kent lookalike — they decided to give them all tiny hands and feet. Feet so small he can’t really stand up.

How is he supposed to walk? I, for one, am not ready to see Ken buzzing down the sidewalk on a Rascal.

At least the company decided to address social consciousness, I thought, by moving away from Ken’s unattainable perfection by offering him in three different body types: “slim,” “original” and “broad.”

But then I looked up the “broad” model. And he looked nothing like what we might expect to see grabbing a couple of extra yeast rolls at Golden Corral.

“Broad” Ken is only slightly barrel chested, slightly convex in the stomach region. No sign of insulin resistance or lower lumbar pain. No comb-overs or prescription for Zantac.

No “Dad bod” to be seen. No attempt of a ‘Larry the Cable Guy’ body for Ken.

This is simply a glossed over version of what was supposed to address realism within our culture. 

So, Barbie, as you sweep through menopause and wonder how that second roll of flesh directly below your bust appeared, don’t you worry one bit, my dear, if you’re the one instead of Ken targeted for jokes about your appearance.

You’ve always been your own woman! You’ve got a massive portfolio from all those years as a flight attendant, nurse and astronaut! You can do whatever you want!

Who needs Ken, anyway? 

Especially when I hear G.I. Joe’s on the market…