NEW YORK – After 50 years of debate over her unattainably perfect figure, Barbie now is unapologetic about her tiny waist and endless legs.
To prove it? The doll, which is made by Mattel, is flaunting her frame in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 50th anniversary issue that’s hitting stands Tuesday. She’ll be featured alongside supermodels including Christie Brinkley and Brooklyn Decker as part of a campaign called unapologetic.
As a legend herself, and under constant criticism about her body and how she looks, posing gives Barbie and her fellow legends an opportunity to own who they are, said Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s senior vice president of marketing.
The campaign is a departure for the 55-year old doll, which has been beloved as a plaything and criticized as an unrealistic standard of beauty for decades.
This latest move, which again sparked online debate Wednesday about body image issues, comes as Mattel tries to revive interest in the doll icon. Barbie is worth an estimated $1.3 billion in sales for the toymaker, and she’s the No. 1 toy brand.
As part of the campaign, there will be a collector Sports Illustrated Barbie doll, an event Monday at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beach House, a billboard in New York’s Times Square and @Barbie tweets with the hashtag unapologetic on Twitter.
Barbie also will appear on the cover of 1,000 issues in an advertising cover wrap for the New York Toy Fair, which starts Sunday.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day said Barbie fits in with the swimsuit issues’ message of empowerment for women.
But Allen Adamson, a branding expert, said he’s not sure a feature in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue is the right strategy for the brand.
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is one step away from Playboy magazine, he said. It is potentially sending the wrong message to girls.