| AUSTIN, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas Feb 12 Red-blooded beauties, step
aside: a plastic Barbie doll will join a generation of iconic
stunners next week in the Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary
Striking a pose in the black-and-white swimsuit she wore for
her debut in 1959, Barbie takes her place alongside a host of
legendary SI Swimsuit alumni as part of a new promotional
campaign with the magazine, Mattel officials said.
"Barbie is a legend in her own right, with more than 150
careers and a brand valued at $3 billion," Mattel spokeswoman
Michelle Chidoni said. "She is in great company with the other
legends, such as (actress-models) Heidi Klum and Christie
Brinkley, to name a few."
The cover will be unveiled on the late-night TV talk show
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Thursday, according to show
representatives. The magazine is due to hit newsstands on
The campaign refers to Barbie as "the doll that started it
all," and uses the hashtag "#Unapologetic" to promote buzz
around the issue.
The hashtag appears in discussions on social media sites, on
a billboard in Manhattan's Times Square, and in an
as-yet-unexplained plan to take over the "NASDAQ digital
footprint" on Thursday, according to a company statement.
The "unapologetic" refrain is a cheeky nod to critics who
have insisted for decades that Barbie and the magazine
contribute to unhealthy expectations of beauty and poor body
self-image in girls.
This appearance by Barbie, a first for the Swimsuit issue,
has sparked a fresh round of criticism beyond the long-standing
arguments that Barbie is impossibly skinny and that the real
women in the issue are objectified or go to unhealthy lengths to
look the way they do.
"Our girls are only so young for such a very short time, and
taking one of her toys and putting it alongside sexualized and
dehumanized images of women to fall under the male gaze is wrong
on so many levels," Eve Vawter, editor of the blog Mommyish,
wrote in a post Wednesday. "Barbie is no longer just a doll. She
is a sex doll."
Mattel said in a statement that the ad campaign celebrates
"some of the world's most famous swimsuit legends - like Barbie
- who have gone on to break boundaries, build empires and shape
"Though we have yet to see one of our own run for
president, scores of Swimsuit alum have gone on to launch
business empires, acting careers, fashion lines, media
production companies and other kinds of ventures," Rebecca
Shore, a writer for the SI Swim Daily website, wrote in a post.