Earring Magic Ken

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Earring Magic Ken, complete with accessory

Earring Magic Ken is a model of the Ken doll introduced by Mattel in 1993 as a companion to its Earring Magic Barbie figure, one of six dolls in the Earring Magic Barbie line.[1] This iteration of the Ken doll featured an updated look, including blonde highlights in its traditionally brown hair, outfits including purple shirt, lavender vest, a necklace with a circular charm and, as the name indicates, an earring in its left ear.[2]

Mattel had conducted a survey of girls asking if Ken should be retained as Barbie's boyfriend or whether a new doll should be introduced in that role. Survey results indicated that girls wanted Ken kept but wanted him to look "cooler."[3] The redesigned Ken was the result. Observers quickly noted the resemblance of Earring Magic Ken to a stereotypical gay man, from the purple clothes to the earring to the necklace, which was described as a "chrome cock ring."[4] Kitsch-minded gay men bought the doll in record numbers, making Earring Magic Ken the best-selling Ken model in Mattel's history.[5] Despite the commercial success of the doll, public criticism from gay-community commentators such as Dan Savage in the Seattle, Washington alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger led Mattel to discontinue Earring Magic Ken and recall the doll from stores.[3]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Jones, Amelia (2003). The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Routledge. p. 338. ISBN 0-415-26705-6. 
  2. ^ Lawson, Carol (1993-02-27). "Gender-bending playthings challenge industry's toys-will-be-toys tradition". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b Haig, Matt (2005). Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time. Kogan Page. pp. 45–7. ISBN 0-7494-3927-0. 
  4. ^ Paley, Maggie (2000). The Book of the Penis. Grove Press. p. 197. ISBN 0-8021-3693-1. 
  5. ^ Melendez, Mel (Fall 1997). "Show Me Your Billy". Prism. Retrieved 2007-12-19.