Why Barbie dumped Ken

In my quest to explain allometry for my upcoming series on grading, I came across something you may find interesting -the real reason Barbie dumped Ken.

Since like attracts like and in the context of the continual debate over the ideal female body as represented by the Barbie doll being incongruous with real women’s bodies, it seems there’s a similar debate regarding boys toys (action figures). From Evolving ideals of men’s body image, consider this photo of Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo in 1978 (on the left) with Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo in 1998 (on the right).


According to this article that describes muscle dysmorphia

This difference between men and women is very important, because it shows that men as well as women are susceptible to feeling badly about their bodies after viewing certain media, but these feelings are triggered by a different type of media image. In fact, Leit, Gray, and Pope (2001) have shown that the idealized male body type is toward the more muscular; society’s view of muscles is: “Bigger is better.” Women are conditioned to think that: “Thinner is better.” Research has shown, in general, that men strive to be heavier in muscle, whereas women strive to be thinner (Furnham, Badmin, & Sneade, 2002).

If you wade through these two articles you’ll find the clue to the real reason that Barbie dumped Ken.

…the examples analyzed here are representative of the overall trend of body image in male action toys over the last several decades. The other leading contemporary toys, support the impression that this trend toward a bodybuilder physique is consistent. The only notable exception to this trend is the Mattel Company’s Ken, the boyfriend of Barbie. However, although the Barbie toy line overall has frequently ranked among the top 10 toy lines, Ken is but a small part of this market. Among boys in particular, Ken almost certainly ranks well below the popularity of the other male action figure discussed above.

So it would seem that Ken wasn’t just unpopular with Barbie. Physiologically speaking, Barbie’s unique physical attributes put her at 1/100,000 women but Ken is only 1/50 men. I’d always suspected the break up was due to Ken’s permanently affixed plastic underwear but apparently, Barbie is anorexic but Ken doesn’t have muscular dysmorphia which eliminates the possibility of their becoming the perfect dysfunctional couple! No wonder she dumped him.

Allometry -by the way- could be defined (for our purposes) as the parameters for defining the characteristics and measures of grade rules. Why then, do none of my grading books even bring it up? And people wonder why I dislike most text books…

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6 comments

  1. Pavlina says:

    Hmmm, the molded plastic hair is better than the Ken doll I had with real hair! Scary!

    Funny enough, I saw a news story of this about 2 months ago. When they showed the “new” Luke Skywalker figure, I almost fell out of my chair. I guess they are hoping that no-one notices scrawny
    Mark Hamill in the actual film.

  2. JenM says:

    We had the Han Solo doll instead of Ken – even when you are 6 its obvious who Barbie would date! We also had the Princess Leia doll but with her non-Barbie anatomy didn’t fit into any other clothes besides her white dress so Han Solo ended up dumping her for Barbie.

  3. Eric H says:

    Um, excuse me Jen? Han dumped Leia for Barbie because she only fit into one dress? I can’t remember the comedian, but he essentially nailed men’s attitudes* about clothes: “We don’t give a $#!# about clothes – yours or ours!” What matters most is whether they come off … and Leia’s definitely came off.

    * Straight men’s attitudes, that is. I assume that both Ken and Luke were gay, hence automatically disqualified as romantic interests, though well-dressed and possibly very catty about what Barbie and Leia wear.

  4. Alison says:

    Jen… Yes! my Princess Leia doll was too big for everything else and she had flat feet! I grew up thinking Carrie Fisher was this Amazonian woman and got quite a surprise when I realised how petite she actually is.

    The later Luke Skywalker looks more like He-Man. Which makes me wonder what sort of dimensions would they give a modern He-Man doll! :/

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