In Search of Ken


By Sherri Caldwell

Once the Toys R Us advertisements began in early December: "Buy $60 worth of Barbie and get the Barbie Talking Townhouse FREE! (A $60 value!)," it quickly became obvious this would be a Barbie Christmas for the Rebel Daughters, Haleigh and Lillian, both age six. Vicki and I coordinate getting the same things for the girls--it's just easier that way, trust me.

After striking out online ( didn't have any more available), I trekked to the real world Toys R Us early to avoid the frenzied crowds and holiday madness that sets in the last two weeks before Christmas. I spent nearly an hour browsing the Barbie aisle with the other early bird Barbie Moms, playing squeeze the shopper, bumper carts and exchanging holiday 'pleasantries.' It was not as easy to spend $60 as you might think.

For those of you who have never shopped Barbie, or if it has been awhile, it's a whole new pink and flowery world. Everybody knows Barbie, that Blonde Bimbo of perfection with the billion dollar wardrobe. Barbie, as old as she is, can be and do anything--and Mattel sells the props and accessories, dolls for every occupation and occasion: Veterinarian Barbie, Beauty Shop Barbie, Fashion Barbie (with her very own mall!), Pool Party get the idea. And that's not including the very special, very expensive, never-to-be-taken-out-of-the-box, collector edition Barbies: Scarlett O'Hara, Marilyn Monroe and Wizard of Oz Barbie, to name just a few. Those aren't even in the discussion today, as that's an entirely different obsession, not for children or relatively sane women who have grown up and moved past their childhood and have better things to blow $150 bucks on.

Still with me? Okay, how do I spend $60 and NOT end up with five or six MORE of the same Blonde Beast, just dressed up in different outfits and with 50 different plastic and cardboard pieces in each set--all those little things that never get played with, end up in the garbage, down the toilet or sucked up in the vacuum cleaner?

Hold on--what about "My Scene"? Also included in the $60 requisite purchase, My Scene is all the rage in the six-to-eight-year-old female set. I didn't know what they were until Haleigh blew six weeks' allowance and brought home My Scene Snowboardin' Barbie: "in her sassy snowsuit and fab matching coat!" It's Barbie, but an entirely new creature, updated for 2000 and beyond, I guess. Meet trashy Barbie and friends: more make-up, jewelry, dreadlocks and highlights; tight jeans, faux fur and lots of belly buttons! (FYI, regular Barbie doesn't even have a belly button to expose!). Trendy and sophisticated, but in a Paris Hilton (not good) kind of way.

My Scene Barbies are slightly larger with different proportions, so they would never be able to share clothes with regular Barbie. To accommodate them, we'd need a whole new wardrobe, at the very least. My Scene dolls come with their own accessory sets--most come with a boyfriend!--and include, "for relaxing afternoons and glamorous evenings": So Chic Salon (with full spa); The Sound Lounge (with karaoke stage); and Makeup Scene (for "mani's, pedi's and makeovers!"). Is any of this appropriate for six-year-olds?!

The My Scene dolls are quite a diverse group: blondes, brunettes, blacks, whites and latinos. The girls are stunning, sexy and SO with it. Some of the guys are just as attractive, but then I notice the white guys--they all look like the younger members of boy bands or Carson Kressley from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." There is not a studly, man-looking guy in the bunch--what's going on here?! The other guys are handsome, really cute, but I'm not sure everybody is ready for Haleigh's first bi-racial couple at age six--and the Black and Latino chicks would kick My Scene Barbie's skinny little butt for messing with their men!

We are not ready for My Scene--not this year.

I end up with the Barbie Grooming Stable, the Barbie Horse (with curlers and twirlers for the horse's mane and tail) and a variety of Barbie fashions--jeans for horseback riding (although I really had to search through the trendy miniskirt outfits and evening wear). That's what six-year-olds should be dreaming about and playing with: asexual Barbie, clothes and ponies, all sweet and innocent.

But maybe it is time to introduce some heterosexuality with a Ken doll. He's safe--he doesn't even have a penis and Ken has always been rather effeminate anyway, truth be told. I pick out some Ken clothes and turn around to find a simple, $5 Ken doll--Malibu Ken in his bathing suit--nothing fancy.

Who knew Ken would be so popular? There wasn't a Malibu Ken, or any other kind of Ken except Ken as The Prince (Barbie's feature is Barbie in Swan Lake this year), but he's $20, and if I buy him, I'd have to buy Swan Lake Barbie to match--and even for that gorgeous new ballerina princess outfit, we do not need yet another blonde Barbie (or any of the others) in Ken's well-stocked harem, already waiting for him at home.

I couldn't find just plain Ken ANYWHERE--Toys R Us, Target, KB Toys, online...well, wait, I did find ONE Ken on eBay, in a set with three frizzy blondes, all in mismatched hillbilly clothing. I quickly topped out the other bidders to snatch him up--I ended up paying $16 with shipping, but I'm excited: Ken is coming! Unfortunately, when Ken arrives, he's used and abused Ken with a broken neck! (The three blondes aren't even Barbie dolls, and they are skanky!) What do I do, because now, of course, I am obsessed with finding a Ken doll. What about G.I. Joe? Now there's a thought--he's a man, through and through! Will Ken clothes fit G.I. Joe? (No, as it turns out.)

The next week, setting out for some last-minute shopping, I hear the new advertisement/enticement on the radio: "Buy $60 worth of Barbie and get a FREE Barbie Cruise Ship!" I quickly dial Vicki on my cell phone. All I have to say is: "NO! The girls do NOT need the boat! NO MORE BARBIE!!"

© 2003 Sherri Caldwell and The Rebel Housewife, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

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