Opinion: Unleashing Your Inner Allan

The Bohm Theater in downtown Albion showed “Barbie” last weekend. The film centers on finding your place in the world from the perspective of the many Barbies, Kens and one Allan (Photo by Katherine Simpkins).

It is no surprise that even a few months after “Barbie’s” record-breaking movie release, people are still searching for their inner Barbies and Kens. 

After all, Michael Cuby of Them Magazine says that Barbies “are women capable of anything.”

Barbies are at the helm of society in Barbieland, all while looking perfect in high heels. Even the Kens have their place in the spotlight, as they lounge around in their perfectly fitting shorts using lingo that is always on point. They’re perfect, to the point that Fast Company published a guide to dressing and acting like a Ken.

However, within the sea of plastics, there’s someone who was not made to be flawless like Barbie or a force of nature like Ken. 

That someone is Allan. 

Allan was made to fit into Ken’s clothes and follow him everywhere. He is consistently introduced as Ken’s friend, rather than his own person. No matter how hard he tries to like Matchbox Twenty songs or enjoy the Barbies’ slumber parties, he never truly feels comfortable. Allan tries every day to cement himself on either side, but he always finds himself kicked out or ignored. Nevertheless, even while in existential limbo, he remains an active member of society. He mingles with the Kens on the beach and helps the Barbies with whatever they’re planning for that day. 

If you find yourself more aligned with the subject of this piece as opposed to his glamorous predecessors, start taking notes. Here is how you can access your inner Allan. 

Recognize You’re Different in a Way You’ll Never Fully Place

From the moment you gain awareness of social situations, realize that you will never quite fit in. You won’t know why you can’t replicate Barbie’s flawless eyeliner application or Ken’s ability to navigate handshakes with ease, but keep trying. You won’t understand the Barbies’ bright conversations or the Kens comparing feats of strength – but pretend nonetheless. When navigating social events, drift from Barbie’s conversations to Ken’s chatter while pretending you always know what’s going on. When you start to grow more lost than ever before, do what’s always worked: Pick a side! Do your best to look like you’ve always belonged.

March into the Kendom and Demonstrate Your Masculinity 

Watch a YouTube video on the perfect handshake and practice it until your hand is stuck in a doll-like gesture. Then, begin to leave your bubble until you realize you should probably also learn a few sports facts. After reading everything there is to know from the Pleiad’s sports section, march into Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House and start a conversation. 

Now, realize that handshakes are only for formal events and that you are supposed to know how to “bro hug” instead. When you accidentally fully hug one of the Kens, quickly pivot the conversation to the latest sports updates. You’ll finally feel like you belong until the topic of sports alerts a Ken in the corner who insists you all play a game of football. Swallow your fear of the sudden unknown, somehow score a touchdown and yell, “GOAL!”

Get Kicked Out and Waltz into Barbie Land 

Pick up your ego and try the other side. Remember that your mom is a total Barbie and has let you watch her apply makeup a few times in the past, so steal some of hers and hope for the best. When that doesn’t work, watch another YouTube video, this time on how to apply whatever is on the palette in front of you. Almost leave your bubble again before running back for a pair of high heels your roommate excitedly lets you borrow. 

Stumble your way over to the Barbies, but pretend you’re gracefully gliding instead. Upon talking to them, realize you completely missed the part in the video stating that the look you applied is for the club and not a social gathering. Every Barbie looks radiant and gorgeous, while you look like a 5-year-old who got into their mom’s makeup kit. 

Get Kicked Out (Again) and Lament Over the Curse that Forever Hangs Over Your Head 

Run back to the safety of your bubble and look at yourself in the mirror. See Weird Barbie staring back. If you haven’t yet, give yourself time to act like your world is crashing down around you and arrive at the conclusion that you should just become a hermit. 

However, after that moment is over, take the self-confidence every Ken seems to be born with and mash it together with the problem-solving skills of a Barbie. Little by little, start to see the full picture.

Realize that The Curse is Actually a Gift

Step into your own category, armed with the observations Giulia Castaganaro makes in their Gender GP article:Barbie is queerer than you think.

“Allan exists as a separate entity, one not defined by the Barbies and Kens, while still living in their world. Allan fights for the Barbies and admires the Kens but is neither one of them at the same time. He is his own person,” Castaganaro said.

By being someone who doesn’t quite fit into either category, discover that you can simply be both – or neither – whenever you’d like. 

Being Allan means you can understand the struggles of both sides. A win for them is a win for you. Know that while you can fit into Ken’s clothing, you also look great in Barbie’s. Most of all, know the possibilities are endless.

Now that you don’t need to pretend anymore, remember there’s only one you, and you can be whoever you want.

You can be just Allan.

About Killian Altayeb 22 Articles
Killian Altayeb is from Novi, Michigan and is a second-year student at Albion College. They are a Biochemistry Major with a journalistic interest in all things public health. Contact Killian via email at NA12@albion.edu.

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