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. 

See alsoEdit

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