At 2:36 pm, I saw a photo on Tumblr of a pretty gay looking ad for Ken of Mattel fame and his “buddy” Allan. While at first struck by the feeling that I had seen it before (I hadn’t, it just reminded me of a still from Dead Poets Society, which is a whole different thing), I realized that I actually had no idea who this other named Barbie boy was.
At 2:38 pm, I reverse image searched for that ad, got nothing, and started typing in somewhat random combinations of keywords like “Allan”, “Barbie”, “vintage”, and “Hey, is this Barbie doll guy gay?”
The array of images astounded me in its sheer overwhelming force. Every picture my eyes were confronted with brought a new level of both depth and alleviation to my gender dysphoria, giving a glimpse into an alternate universe where I was Allan, Ken’s Buddy, with the promise of sweet blazers and that eternal little hair curl I so rarely get to see in the mirror. I was Allan. Allan was me.
At 3:43 pm, I brought my findings to Twitter, at which point I realized more people may wish to know about Allan than I thought, and so here we are: The best illustrated looks of one Allan the Barbie boy.
1. Unnamed Pattern Boys
Although most of these boys look like more Kens than Allans, they definitely all represent looks and feelings I wish I could rock. The tucked in shirt sans belt, the paisley, and that clock, of course, is on an entirely different level than me. I applaud you, nameless pattern boys. Godspeed on your journey to bring affordable fashion to all.
2. Assorted Box Look Books
These looks are so potent I can only glance at them out of the corner of my eye, like a solar eclipse of cutting edge fashion. Plenty of blazers, a few even with incredible elbow patches, and even in a fun plaid. The argyle sweaters are a little unfortunate, but what can you do. He’s definitely owning that tennis look.
The skinny tie with the blue suit (seen with a square end on the second box) is perfect for your stuffy older sister’s Confirmation but still hip enough that you can hang out with the boys later. And the green slouchy turtleneck is iconic enough on its own, but to pair it with shorts? Unprecedented, unparalleled, absolutely above belief. This is what I look like in my dreams.
3. Nighttime is the Right Time
First: the elbow on the counter, paired with the coy one-foot-behind-the-other, is an immaculate pose. The popped collar is back with a vengeance, now accented to match the pocket trim, and I just know those vertical lines would make me feel as tall as I wish I was.
4. New In Town
This is an Allan that you call on the weekends to complain about your parents and your best friend’s shitty boyfriend to. He’s a good listener, trustworthy, and a little awkward at times, but genuinely cares about his friends! He’s yellow, the color of happiness, and the kind of friend I want to be. Check out the sweet bangs I also rocked once upon a time and the stack of books on the dresser that match his prep school jacket.
5. He’s A Doll™ Too!
This iconic spread, with the primary striped beach attire of both boys, only serves to make that lovely elbow patch look from the back of the box even more of a dream of mine. Campus Corduroys! The best and most casual of the fabrics, corduroy is something I am well accustomed too from my younger years, and something I’ve been meaning to get back into.
Not even touching the Allan on the far left’s sultry look here.
6. Good Vibrations
Yes! Yes! This is it! This beach boy! The popped collar! The primary colors! This is a man ready to steal your man in the middle of his fun in the sun!
7. Ken and Allan: The Dynamic Duo
Previously seen in the back-of-the-box look book, Allan’s chic look here is just unforgettable. Even without color it still manages to impart it’s androgynous wisdom within me (although knowing the newsboy cap is actually red gives me a thrill). With a boxy jacket and slim pant, Allan errs on the right side of mod here, and the contrast with Ken’s more mainstream attire is impossible to ignore.
8. Classic Allan
There’s a new kid in town, and has he got hair to die for! While the eyebrows are a little too neat for my personal taste, there’s something about that curl! I don’t know how to describe it. That curl haunts my dreams and I envy him that.
Note the trademark on “Ken’s Buddy”. We only wish our relationships were as strong as theirs.
9. Weekday Warrior
I’m pretty sure I could recreate the first outfit with absolutely no problem. I think my shirt has more buttons, but other than that the Allan on the left is an ideal just within my grasp.
The Allan on the right, on the other hand, is all I can aspire to be. I love the fit of the sweater, although the pattern reminds me a little bit too much of something Blaine Anderson would’ve worn and I’d rather not try to unpack all of that right now. Now with a more demure collar and— Oh god, are those black and white wingtips? Fashion icon.
10. The One, The Only
The picture that started it all. I can’t help but still be reminded of that scene in Dead Poets Society, as Knox calls his girl and Todd looks over his shoulder at Neil in a brief tableau so similar to this I can’t unsee it. Allan, of course, is in Neil’s place, imbuing this image with a dose of that energy specific to Transmasc Icons too concentrated to ignore. In another place, in another time, I look as timeless as Allan does here.