several kens, led by blonde ken (ryan gosling, center), in barbie

Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube

‘I Am Kenough’ is the ‘Barbie’ message of the moment

For the Kens in your life.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 25, 2023

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Barbie.

Nobody goes through a more existential journey in Barbie than Barbie (Margot Robbie) herself, but Ken’s arc (Ryan Gosling), which takes him from discovering patriarchy in the Real World to leading a failed Kensurrection and figuring out who he is without Barbie, comes close. Which made his final mantra all the more relatable.

At the end of the film, as Barbie walks away with the ghost of Barbie founder Ruth Handler (Rhea Perlman) to decide if she wants to stay in Barbie Land or become human, Ken joins in the farewells. He’s wearing a brand-new outfit, a tie-dye hoodie with the phrase “I Am Kenough” in typical Barbie font. Naturally, the K is a different color and style than the other letters.

If you’ve been paying attention to the gargantuan Barbie press tour, it’s a phrase that Gosling has mentioned before.

Even though much has already been made about what men (not necessarily Barbie’s target demo) thought about the movie, it’s a solid message to embrace. You don’t need to mold yourself for somebody else. Just be yourself.

‘I am Kenough’ memes

Gosling’s Ken wasn’t the only one to get placed in the hoodie: The Toy Story version got his own edit.

It was the kind of shirt people needed immediately. But Mattel had an inkling that would be the case because it is actually selling an official I Am Kenough tie-dye hoodie on its website.

“Guys need messages like this,” TikToker Riley Lemon said in a video where he is wearing a homemade I Am Kenough T-shirt.

@rileydoingthingstoo I AM KENOUGH MERCH FROM THE BARBIE MOVIE – COMMENT IF YOU WANT ONE!💘 #barbiethemovie #iamkenough #ken #barbie #barbiegirl #barbiemovie #kenough #kenoughshirt #mentalhealth #rileydoingthings #rileydoingthingstoo #rileylemon #barbie ♬ original sound – Riley Doing Things

But Ken isn’t the only Ken in our hearts. His struggles to get the most important person in his life—Barbie, of course—to little avail is reminiscent of another pop culture Ken(dall).

On TikTok, several people edited footage of Kendall (Jeremy Strong) from Succession with “I’m Just Ken,” Ken’s big musical number from Barbie, to draw the comparisons even further. Between Ken’s rendition of “L to the OG” and his many, many, many sad glimpses across boardrooms and bodies of water throughout the series, it really clicks.

@wambsified he’s just ken #succession #successionedit #successionmeme #barbie #barbiememe #barbiememe #barbieedit #successionhbo #ryangosling #jeremystrong #ryangoslingedit ♬ original sound – 🧃
@thelucasgomez I'm just Ken Roy #barbie #succession #kendallroy #ryangosling #edit ♬ sonido original – Lucas ⭐⭐⭐

But even as people joke about being Kenough or hunting for tie-dye hoodies, there is something intrinsically important in the pun and in Barbie itself, even for male viewers.

“What I think the movie highlights so well, especially Ryan Gosling’s Ken, is that the patriarchy sucks for us, too,” Tony Capitelli explains.

We’re all Kenough.

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*First Published: Jul 25, 2023, 12:43 pm CDT