Dear Ken –
Hats off to you for your very public campaign to try to win back ex-girlfriend Barbie. It takes courage to put yourself on the line like that. It can’t be easy deciding each day what your next move will be, given the media messages you’re getting on what constitutes manliness in 2011.
In a piece called “Dominating the Man Cave” by Bruce Feiler in last Sunday’s New York Times, he talked about the messages ESPN sends about masculinity, i.e., how manly it is to throw on third down with the game on the line and how not manly it is to leave a big game with a knee injury. The article goes on to say that having so many former athletes at the network makes it OK to be body- and fashion-focused, and even OK to cry.
You’ve got to be confused, Ken.
I mean, if you watched the Super Bowl (and since I “like” you on Facebook I know you’re a football fan) and the commercials, you might be tempted to write Barbie a love letter telling her what a great rack she has. Or you could assume a la Pepsi that all she cares about is how much money you make or if you’re going to lose your hair.
But my favorite commentary on manliness came during the Super Bowl broadcast when the camera showed Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz for what seemed like a split second. Diaz was feeding Rodriguez popcorn and announcer Joe Buck said, “I’m sure Alex Rodriguez is happy that we put the cameras on him at that exact moment.” Mediaite.com went on to Tweet that Diaz had “unwittingly embarrassed” her beau.
Come on. Really?
Ken, please rise above this stuff. You seem to have the sweet thing down pretty good. I saw your billboard in Manhattan saying, “Barbie, I want you back!” One of my friends found your public display of affection a bit off-putting, but trust me it’s not a deal-breaker even for the shy among us. The bold gesture is sexy. And that includes your idea of having a special cupcake made for Barbie at the Magnolia Bakery. Total win-win.
But see, the trick is to find a happy medium. There’s a line. Sweet and bold are an irresistible combination. Just don’t mistake that for pushover or self-centered jerk.
I read in USA Today that your latest incarnation is “Sweet Talking Ken” and you’re described as ‘the ultimate boyfriend for every occasion’ because, according to Mattel (MAT), he “says whatever you want him to say!”
No, love. No, no, no and no. Give Barbie more credit than this, Ken. She’s pretty independent, not exactly sitting around waiting for you or any other guy. Her social calendar is very full, what with her book club and fashion outings, plus she’s rocking a new career every time I turn around. She will be bored to tears with doormat guy.
On the other hand, please don’t take as your example those guys vying to be real-life you on the series That’s KENtertainment, The Search for the Great American Boyfriend. Good God, I could only make it through one episode because those contestants were dripping with arrogance. They seem to have blatant conceit confused with confidence. I began to think the first guy who didn’t talk about how hot he was should win.
The truth is, Ken, there is no ‘great American boyfriend’ really. You’re in a unique position, being a doll and all. Women want to project their stuff on to you. Some think athletes are the living end. Some dig the artsy ones or the bookish ones. You get the idea.
But on the important stuff, the soul stuff, women want your truth. They want to feel extraordinarily supported and heard, and loved despite their flaws and quirks. That’s more romantic than a roomful of roses. The best ones aren’t gold diggers, but want you to rise to the level of success that will make you feel happy and whole. The good ones will love you regardless of your stead, but the question is, will you love you and have anything to give?
That should be your focus, Ken. Cultivating your best self. This is key. Barbie wants a partner who brings it. Full on brings it. And you should demand no less of her. Let the rest fall into place.
Got it? I hope so. America will be watching.
P.S. Stay tuned. I’ll be life coaching Barbie in a few days!