Barbie is “unapologetic” for Sports Illustrated cover

Sports Illustrated-AP


The newest “girl” to grace the cover of “Sports Illustrated” magazine isn’t a real human.

Under the caption “The Doll That Started It All,” Matell’s Barbie is posed in a black-and-white one piece suit with sunglasses, a gorgeous long blond pony, and a gold bangle decorating her delicate wrist.

“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.

Mattel says they wanted Barbie to be “unapologetic”-for her body, her image, her status, her influence.

And the fury has begun.

“Let’s start with the obvious. Why does Mattel want to put a doll for little girls in a magazine for grown men?” tweeted @MarketplaceAPM.

Good question. The magazine-from what I understand, having never purchased nor read any issue-is absolutely made for guys. I don’t agree or support the idea of putting ANY woman-real or fake-on a magazine nearly naked. I don’t think being nearly naked makes women feel “empowered” or “strong.” That’s my personal opinion.

So jumping off my soap box…back to Barbie. I grew playing with this iconic doll. In fact, my sisters and I probably owned close to fifty all together. We would play for HOURS upstairs in our rooms. We loved making up different scenarios. Forget just making Barbie go shopping, or buy a new car.

Our games would usually start with all the Barbies in “heaven” (the bed), lined up, waiting to be born into a family. (This is where our Sunday School lessons came to life.) Then when it was the right “time”, we’d have a Barbie come down to “earth” (the floor) and get a body.

It sounds pretty hilarious…I’ll admit. But actually, playing with these dolls were some of my fondest memories with my sisters. I don’t ever remember looking at Barbie and thinking, “Hmm. Her waist seems proportionality too small for her torso,” or “How come MY legs aren’t that long?” I thought Barbie was beautiful, exactly as she was made to be: a doll. Fake. Pretend. I knew she wasn’t real, that she wasn’t trying to be real. She was a figment of someone’s imagination, and part of mine as well.

So back to the magazine. In a way, I guess I’m glad that it’s a doll on the cover, and NOT a real woman wearing a skimpy suit. But the question is, how is Barbie’s “Sports Illustrated” appearance affecting young girls? Or is it? Do young girls pick up copies of SI? I doubt it. But the fact that Matell is trying to somehow twist this into an empowering, “unapologetic” act bothers me a bit.

According to FOX online, Allen Adamson, a branding expert, said he’s not sure a feature in Sport’s Illustrated’s swimsuit issue is the right strategy for the brand, either.

“The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is one step away from Playboy magazine,” he said. “It is potentially sending the wrong message to girls.”

I agree that the pendulum has *almost* swung the other way, with the idea that skinny women are “unhealthy” or “not real.” Every woman, everybody, every BODY is different, and “normal” or “real” women shouldn’t be labeled as such by how much they weigh. I think, in a way, this might have been the message Matell was trying to send. That Barbie shouldn’t apologize for who she is, or what she looks like.

But that shouldn’t matter, because Barbie isn’t real. And it is slightly weird that she’s on the cover of a magazine marketed toward grown men, as if Matell admits they have made Barbie out to be more of a sex symbol than a child’s toy.

What do you think of Barbie being on the cover of “Sports Illustrated?”



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