Leona O'Neill: For guys who felt left out last week, don't fret – today is Ken day

Today is Ken Day – the day to celebrate the occasion in 1961 when Barbie's long-term on-off boyfriend, Ken Carson, first appeared on the scene. Check out your child's toy box and get nostalgic, writes Leona O'Neill

Ken and Barbie, still going strong after half a century together

THERE isn’t a day that passes throughout the year that isn’t a global day of something or other. There are genuine, amazing celebrations of achievement like International Women’s Day. I celebrated the day with a whole host of amazing women setting the world on fire in little and large ways, from businesses run from their living rooms to commanding world stages.

But if I had £10 for every time a man asked me "When’s it International Men’s Day?" in the run-up to and on Thursday, I would be sitting in the Bahamas right now, sipping a martini, not a care in the world.

If I had known then what I know now, I could have told all those men, clearly longing for a day of celebration to call their own, that today is that day.

Today is World Ken Day, as in Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. It’s not in the same league as International Women’s Day – it’s not perhaps even in the same stratosphere – but it’s an important day none the less for Barbie’s love interest and, in turn, the world.

For women, this day will spark some serious nostalgia of this prince of plastic toys they played with as a child. For guys, it’s a celebration of a polyester-clad, big-haired super stud that they may or may not have as kids, gaze upon with envious eyes.

If you are or ever were a Barbie Girl you will agree that Ken Carson – that is actually his second name; every day is a school day on this page – is, as far as Barbie is concerned, one of the most charming and enchanting men on Planet Earth.

That dreamboat has been by her side as she progressed from a 1950s housewife our mothers might be familiar with to horse-loving country-living stylish girl we women of a certain vintage might know. And big Ken was there to support her as she grew to be the self-sufficient business woman/pilot/doctor/vet/astronaut/humanitarian that our daughters know in today’s modern world.

On this monumental day – officially known as Ken Day – Barbie’s boyfriend made his first appearance at a 1961 toy fair. Initial criticism that cast doubt on his manliness and remarks that he cared more about his own appearance than actual love of Barbie was brushed aside as and the romance between the two dolls blossomed regardless.

The stellar plastic celebrity couple had broken up the year before the toy fair, but toy makers Mattel must have been confident that he was 'the one' and that this time it would last and paraded Ken as Barbie’s other half for the world to see, making them officially 'official'.

Ken loved everything and was ‘into’ everything. He had 40 careers. But Barbie never accused him of being Jack of all trades and master of none, because she loved him no matter what. Besides she didn’t have a plastic leg to stand on, the woman had 78 occupations herself.

They stayed together, neither aging a day, for over four decades until Barbie’s plastic heart was stolen and her detachable head was turned by Australian surfing dude Blaine Gordon in 2004.

Seven years later, on Valentine’s Day, it was announced that the couple had reunited, the flame had been reignited and that one of the most epic romances of all time was back on and the couple got married in Plasticity.

So how are we to celebrate Ken Day? For many of us, Barbie and Ken made up a huge part of our childhood, and in turn our own children’s childhood these days.

If you want to pay tribute to Ken by digging deep into nostalgia, get yourself a real Kennection with those precious childhood memories. Close your eyes and spend a moment in silent recollection of Ken sitting uncomfortably, unbending arms and legs outstretched in his plastic jeep or attending a wholesome date night with Barbie.

Or maybe dig Ken out of your daughter’s toy box and gaze lovingly upon his big hair. Perhaps you might want to wear polyester leisure wear for the day and hang around a barbecue to pay homage? Whatever you do, have a great time.

Happy Ken Day.

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