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Mattel’s Barbie to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue

A Christies employee holds up a 1959 swimsuit Barbie at Christies South Kensington, the oldest in a collection of 4,000 barbie dolls that was auctioned on September 26, 2006 in London. The collection is the biggest in private hands to be auctioned. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images) Image by Getty Images

Mattel’s Barbie to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue

By Phyllis Stark. CREATED Feb 12, 2014

In a move that is evidently not a joke, Mattel will feature its iconic Barbie doll in the upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, on newsstands Feb. 18.

Barbie will be posing in ads wearing “a version of the black-and-white striped swimsuit the doll wore when it was introduced in 1959,” reports AdAge. The ads will feature the tag line “unapologetic.”
“Both the doll and the Swimsuit Issue have sometimes been criticized for fueling unrealistic expectations about women's bodies,” AdAge reports. “But the new Barbie effort, which puts the doll in close company with Swimsuit ‘legends’ being brought back for the issue's 50th installment, is trying to stick it to critics.”
"As a legend herself, and under criticism about her body and how she looks, posing in 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit' gives Barbie and her fellow legends an opportunity to own who they are, celebrate what they have done, and be unapologetic," a Mattel spokeswoman told AdAge, apparently with a straight face.
Piling onto the goofiness of it all, S.I. Swimsuit editor M.J. May told AdAge, “From its earliest days, Swimsuit has delivered a message of empowerment, strength and beauty, and we are delighted that Barbie is celebrating those core values in such a unique manner."
The Barbie ads were shot by well-known sports photographer Walter Iooss Jr. The ad campaign will also feature billboards in Times Square, and as further entry in the “you can’t make this up” sweepstakes, AdAge reports, “Sports Illustrated's Swim Daily site and sibling sites at Time Inc. will post behind-the-scenes videos about Barbie and what it takes to be a Sports Illustrated ‘legend.’”
Mattel will launch a new swimsuit Barbie later this month, at which point those involved in this female empowerment campaign might need reminding that it’s a plastic toy.
Phyllis Stark

Phyllis Stark

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Phyllis Stark is the Digital Executive Producer - National Content for Scripps Media.