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Earring Magic Ken

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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 Ken 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 led Mattel to discontinue Earring Magic Ken and recall the doll from stores.[3]


  1. Jones, Amelia (2003). The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. Routledge, 338. ISBN 0415267056. 
  2. Lawson, Carol. "Gender-bending playthings challenge industry's toys-will-be-toys tradition", New York Times, 1993-02-27. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Haig, Matt (2005). Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time. Kogan Page, 45-7. ISBN 0749439270. 
  4. Paley, Maggie (2000). The Book of the Penis. Grove Press, 197. ISBN 0802136931. 
  5. Melendez, Mel. "Show Me Your Billy", Prism, Fall 1997. Retrieved on 2007-12-19. 

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