This was an interesting read. I can’t relate to it in some ways (being that Ken was only interesting to me when I wanted him to date Barbie and am a heterosexual woman), but it was still intriguing to read from another perspective. I had damn near everything from the three-foot mansion to all the cars and freaking loved Barbie’s whole line. There is one area where I “get” you though — trying to find a connection.
My mother went way out of her way to make sure I had black Barbies. She had to do some digging and definitely had to visit a few stores because they were either “out of stock,” never ordered or “unavailable,” but she knew she’d eventually find some. And I had an even amount, including black Ken dolls — a relief to me and helped me escape the “black dolls are ugly” belief (i.e. psychology study from Kenneth and Mamie Clark) I learned so much about later in life. So I can’t imagine what it’d be like for a parent who just flat-out didn’t even have the option of finding a doll that is more like his/her child. I came up in a time when black Barbies were eventually right next to the white ones, and I almost always chose the black ones.
But a different story came to mind when you started talking about the soccer players. I didn’t really grow up thinking that Barbie was a “girl” toy, mainly because I was a hardcore negotiator with my brother. He really wanted to play G.I. Joe, and I had zip zero interest. But if I was willing to humor his imaginary wars and fights and whatever the hell He-Man was doing at Castle Grayskull, he’d play Ken with my Barbies. He always found a reason why the two were breaking up or preferred to create guys’ night out with the Kens, but by default, he was playing Barbie as much as I was playing with G.I. Joe/He-Man.
And if I really wanted to piss him off, I called G.I. Joe a “doll.” I still do it now at 38 if he gets on my nerves. I know it’ll set him off every single time, and I think it’s hilarious. But he’ll admit as quickly as I will the negotiation process we had with G.I. Joe and Barbie. The only time I stood my ground was when he tried to make G.I. Joe date her. I’d kick him out of my room at that point!