Native Writes: Redesigning Ken and Barbie
Thinking about last week’s column on Mattel’s Ken and Barbie, I wondered why the pair must forever be young and never age, so I began my own design line.
I don’t think Mattel will buy it and I can’t afford to manufacture it, but here are some ideas — stereotypes, actually.
Living my entire life in the San Luis Valley, save for eight years in Summit County and two in Santa Fe, N.M., I have seen people age gracefully, disgracefully and somewhere in between.
Since the Ken and Barbie of today are Millennials, they are unfair to people as old or older than themselves.
Looking at their manufacturing date, however, they are in their mid to late 50s. Barbie was a “cougar” born in 1959, since Ken is somewhat younger. It was great to have a steady date, though.
Or was it? Apparently, there were no choices, it was chiseled blonde or chiseled blonde. Ken wore slacks and a shirt, with penny loafers on his feet. Barbie was forced to wear stilettos.
My Barbie design will have flexible feet and a collection of sandals and flats which ill still get lost, but won’t cause pain if stepped on by a real person.
Now, there are body shape and skin color choices, but looking at photos of the line, all the Kens have the same facial features, as do the Barbies.
Barbie will have graying hair which she might dye and Ken will have “male Pattern baldness.
My 58-year-old Barbie will have wrinkles, be watching her weight, battling the “muffin top” and watching her skin yield to one of the laws that can’t be broken, the law of gravity.
She will be worried about an approaching class reunion and the fact that the nicest dress she owns is a muu muu. She will spend too much on a pair of tights and a flowing top.
The San Luis Valley Barbie will be “over it.” She will dress for comfort and if the outfit is cute, it’s a plus. Her shoes will keep her feet soft and clean and her hair will be worn in a windproof style.
San Luis Valley’s Ken will own three western hats, a straw one for winter, a grey felt one with sweat stains for work and a black Stetson for “fancy.”
He will favor worn jeans, but might own a set of Dockers. He will wear a jacket with the name of a feed company embroidered on it and his feet will enjoy life in an aged, “well-trained” pair of boots.
In Summit County, Barbie will wear tights or stirrup pants that tuck nicely into Sorrels, which match nothing, but are reliably warm. She will own flat sandals and shoes with three-inch heels.
Her “significant other” Ken will wear a denim jacket and faded blue Levis. His summer pants will be shorts and he will wear them well into October. He also will have a set of “cowboy” boots, a pair of canvas deck shoes, some worn leather sandals and a fairly new baseball cap from Central City.
The Santa Fe Barbie wears turquoise jewelry. Her sandals will be natural leather with inset silver and turquoise beads.
Santa Fe’s Ken will have shoulder-length hair and turquoise stud earrings. He will sell plastic jewelry and piñon brittle to the tourists, drive an ancient “Beemer” and go hatless most of the time.
No matter what, all the dolls will have fun.