The Barbie Fashionistas line—which added a more diverse range of Barbies in 2016—will now include Ken dolls that come in three body types (“slim,” “broad,” and “original”), seven skin tones, eight hair colors, and nine different hair styles (including a man-bun). Now, boys and girls can play with Barbies that look more like real people, who might sport cornrows, have a larger body, need glasses, or just be more inclined to wear flannel than the original Baywatch-bod Ken.
The update comes in the wake of competing toy companies debuting dolls with realistic body types and different skin colors. While Barbie is still an icon of the toy world, dolls (both male and female) like Lammily come in measurements that are based on average humans, without Barbie’s impossible proportions. Though the effect is not clear-cut, some studies have suggested that Barbie’s unrealistic looks could make girls less satisfied with their own bodies.
After years of getting flak for promoting gender stereotypes and insane beauty standards, Mattel has been trying to widen its appeal with moves like adding new skin tones and, in 2015, collaborating on an ad that showed a boy playing with Barbies for the first time.
If Barbie is getting a makeover to help her reflect how people look in real life, Ken can’t only come in one (clean-cut Caucasian beefcake) form. Even if that means we have to accept Man-Bun Ken.