Earring Magic Ken
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. This generation 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.
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." 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." Kitsch-minded gay men bought the doll in record numbers, making Earring Magic Ken the best-selling Ken model in Mattel's history. 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.
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