Ken’s Hair Raising Story

 Original Ken Doll 1961 2017 Ken with Man Bun

Ken’s Man Bun – Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Oh Ken, say it ain’t so!

Whose hair brain idea was it to give poor Ken Carson a man bun? I’m not sure even curvy Barbie would be happy with this new do. And classic Barbie fuhghettabout it

Ever since Mattel introduced diverse versions of Barbie s beau along with a slew of new fashionable outfits, new hairstyles and body types it is the hair bun Ken that has garnered the most attention.

Love it or hate it man bun requires a lot of hair.

Blue eyed blonde Ken 1961 and Fashionista Man Bun Ken 2017

Blue eyed blonde Ken 1961 and (R) Fashionista Man Bun Ken 2017

The original hair challenged Ken of my youth has come a long way. The  first generation doll sported a flocked blonde crew cut, which meant Ken didn’t have a hair to spare to even create a pompadour for heaven’s sake let alone a man bun. And God forbid it ever got wet; Kens felt hair would start to recede with the swiftness of male pattern baldness.

Today’s Brooklyn hipsters might  be alone in embracing  the man bun, but original Ken sported  1961’s most popular hair do, the crew cut.

1960’s Ken came beach ready in fetching red trunk and a towel, his hair shorn permanently for the summer.

And why not

A popular haircut for the collegiate set, it was mid- century summers must have hair cut for boys cut for boys and teenagers.

Crew Cut Style

Vintage Ad 1961 Crew Cut Butch wax surfer boy

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch Wax. “The Butch- the shortest of all popular haircuts”

Also known affectionately as a butch cut, a buzz cut and a flat top, a crew cut was, along with baseball, camping, and Good Humor, an essential part of summer’s ritual. Getting your hair shorn was a rite of passage for the boys of summer.

Although it appeared to be a care-free- no-fuss-no-muss hairstyle, keeping it up or keeping it down required maintenance with a mid-century product called Butch Wax. One manufacturer of the paste-like substance promised to help keep your hair as evenly “as the bristles of a new brush.”

There was not just one size fits all crew cuts…the variations were exacting and numerous according to these Max Factor vintage ads from 1961, the same year Ken debut.

The Standard Crew Cut


Vintage Ad 1961 Crew Cut Butch wax Illustration teenage boy

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch Wax


 This was the most popular of all short-hair cuts. “It is trained to stand upright in front and on top, with the sides cut close to the shape of the head. It’s length is about an inch and a half at front to an inch at the crown and !/2 inch at back.

The Short Pomp


Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax


This haircut looks like the regular crew cut in shape but it is slightly longer in length so that the hair begins to lie down a bit and cover the scalp when combed back. The top front length is about 2 inches, an inch and a half at crown and an inch at the back.

The Flat-Top-Boogie

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax


 This haircut is getting more and more popular, The flat-topboogie has long sides which must be kept carefully trained to look neat. The sides are combed back and upward, pulling the longer strands around the back of the head in a semi ducktail.

The West Pointer

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax

Vintage Ad 1961 Max Factor Crew Cut Butch wax


This is the official haircut of the US Military Academy. All hair on sides and back is kept clipped down to the skin. hair above forehead is rounded to shape of the skull with a maximum length of an eight of an inch for plebes and 1 inch for upper classmen.

Copyright (©) 20017 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved



  1. Christy

    The original Ken’s flocked hair would rub off. I still have my half-bald Kens from back in the day.


    • My original Ken is half bald too which is only appropriate since he is over 50. And if you ever got his head wet you were in big trouble. That’s why not long after they switched him to a long lasting, never-deteriorating-even-in-a landfill plastic do.


  2. Josh at LivingMCM

    The “man bun” harks back to topknot hairstyles used by men in East Asia for centuries.
    It’s interesting to see a pre-modern manner of grooming come back in this fashion.


  3. Frank Bray

    I had a ken doll back in the ’70s. Can’t remember how I came to acquire said doll, and also nobody seemed to think it was unusual for a 10 yr old boy to have one, even though I was raised in a very conservative Christian household. Yes I knew I was “different” back then – that difference turned out to be gay. Ken was The Man back then, nowadays, not so much. I think the man-bun and all who wear them should just be banned. Perod. Bring back the crew cut.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know they made toupees with man buns. Thanks for letting me know.


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