Ken-He’s A Living Doll

Sure, Barbie had her chance to play the field with Blaine. But two years later, Ken was right back at her side. Here, we pay tribute to the qualities that make this “living doll” such an ideal boyfriend.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ince 1961, Ken® has been the most famous boyfriend on the planet, thanks largely due to his lifelong association with Barbie®. These two have been an item longer than Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham!

“In 2004, after more than 43 years together, Barbie and Ken mutually agreed to seek their independence and decided to spend some time apart,” recalls Jef
Ken started an independent journey to reinvent himself once again.
Beck, author of I [Love] Ken: My Life as the Ultimate Boyfriend and curator of the site. Barbie subsequently began dating Blaine, an Aussie surfer… but their romance didn’t last. As Beck notes, “breakups can create breakthroughs. Ken started an independent journey to reinvent himself once again; it took two years. With Blaine finally out of the picture, Ken reemerged in 2006 and asked Barbie to be his girlfriend again. Of course, she accepted!”

Why did Barbie choose to go back to her first love?

Understanding Ken’s appeal
One reason, according to Beverly Hills-based psychiatrist and relationship expert Carole Lieberman, M.D., is that he’s an easy mark. “Although Ken is handsome, he really is rather stiff and insecure, making him the perfect ‘sitting duck.’ Barbie is attracted to Ken because she knows that his need for reassurance about his masculinity gives her an edge because she’s able to wrap him around her little finger. Ken has become like putty in her hands.”

Ouch! That’s a little harsh on old Ken, isn’t it? He’s not just a fellow who’s easy to manipulate (although he is flexible!). Doesn’t the dude have some redeeming qualities? You bet he does. Here are a few of traits that make women go for guys like Ken:

1. That buff body.
“He is in shape, and most importantly, he looks like he respects his body,” says Andrea Hall, a 39-year-old criminal defense lawyer in Loveland, CO. “If he respects his body, he will respect me.”

2. He’s a dapper dresser.
“Ken has always been Barbie’s best accessory,” says Lisa Steadman, a Barbie, branding, and breakups expert who’s the CEO of Woohoo, Inc., in Los Angeles. The
Ken’s best trait is that he understands Barbie needs her independence.
former Mattel employee says that Ken is “stylish and always smartly dressed for the occasion, from prom night to the football game to disco-dancing in the 1970s.”

3. His loyalty as a partner.
“[He] stood by Barbie for decades as she chased after fame, expensive clothing, cars and beach homes — and as she tried on one career after another,” notes Laura Lee, the Rochester, MN-based author of Broke is Beautiful. “Ken always knew he had lots of options, yet he stood at Barbie’s side, as high-maintenance as she was.”

4. An eternally positive outlook.
“That smile never fades and those eyes never cease to sparkle,” notes Kate Gould, commissioning editor at The Fine Line, a publishing company in Scotland. “There’s a sense that no matter what, he’ll be there with a steady — actually, rigid — hand and a smile to make your knees knock. It’s possible it’s a Prozac haze he’s in, but when someone looks that enthralled by every word you say and is clearly delighted to be there, it’s better just to assume he thinks you’re super.”

5. Being supportive of his lady’s achievements.
“Ken’s best trait is that he understands Barbie needs her independence,” says Oakland, CA resident Kourtney Jason, author of The Naughty Bucket List and a senior editor for “He doesn’t expect her to give up everything she has going on just because she has a boyfriend. Whether she’s changing her career again or having a girls’ night, Barbie is appreciative that Ken is so supportive of her needs. And if anything, her independence makes Ken love her even more!” (This year, Barbie makes a bid for the White House as the I Can Be...™ President doll.)

When you look at Ken in this light, it’s easy to see why Barbie couldn’t live without him — and why so many of us ladies keep looking for our own living Ken dolls to love!

Margot Carmichael Lester ( has been dishing out love advice since 2001 and married her own perfect-10 Ken in 2004.
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