The impressive array of body types and ethnicities isn’t what people are talking about
Only in recent years has Mattel’s Barbie line of products made an effort to embrace likenesses outside the realm of “blonde hair and blue eyes,” but even in light of their recent efforts, the newest line is their most inclusive.
Included in the newly premiered Barbie Fashionistas line are 40 dolls comprising seven body types, 28 hairstyles, and 11 skin tones.
Here’s a sampling of the new characters as presented in a Mattel marketing photo:
The company is trying to include and reach a broader spectrum of cultures and young people, but that doesn’t mean Mattel’s latest release hasn’t raised a few eyebrows. As you can probably ascertain from the photo above, the dolls speak heavily to millennial and hipster culture (I’m looking at you, plaid shirt and glasses).
Evoking the most criticism, however, would be the inclusion of a man-bun-wearing Ken doll, looking like he’s about to unfreeze at any moment and refer to himself as a “global citizen.”
Many (myself included) might argue that waging a war—however small—against a doll’s hairstyle is a bit stupid, but that hasn’t stopped outlets from circling the wagons and drafting think-pieces on where it all went wrong for Mattel. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s biggest qualm in this examination is that the haircut isn’t even cool anymore. Fortunately, adult journalists aren’t targeted Barbie consumers, so Mattel might just weather this storm after all.
Elsewhere, Twitter’s off and running, applying its own hipster stereotypes to the dolls.
The new "Man Bun" Ken doll comes with shirt, shoes, and keys to Barbie's car that he's driving until he "gets back… https://t.co/cVovRBFDAp— Benjamin Siemon (@Benjamin Siemon)1497968231.0
(Ok. That one’s pretty funny.)
*sees man-bun on new Barbie doll* https://t.co/U8pSULl5Xd— Darth Vader (@Darth Vader)1498010950.0
If you’re looking for a dig from none other than Stephen King, it’s not gonna happen. He’s onboard with Ken’s top-knotted majesty, so maybe you should be too.
Barbie's bff, Ken, now comes with a man bun or cornrows. You go with your bad self, Kenny.— Stephen King (@Stephen King)1497977030.0
The corporate marketers at Mattel are loving every minute of this, doing their very best to keep this going.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Ken has a man bun. #ManBunKen #TheDollEvolves Shop the dolls: https://t.co/ebeFD1whgR https://t.co/whcYUkud27— Barbie (@Barbie)1498071485.0
We’ll bite our tongues until the inevitable incident involving an angry woman and a pair of scissors fixing this problem at her local Target.