Barbie Lands Her Dream Job: a Spread in the Swimsuit Issue of 'Sports Illustrated'

The foxy 56-year-old attains supermodel status.

Barbie Will Have a Spread in Sports Illustrated's 50th Swimsuit Anniversary Issue

(Photo: Aly Song/Reuters)

Kristina Bravo is a Los Angeles–based writer. She is a fellow at TakePart.

She’s been president, a shoe cat burglar (Louboutins only, please), and a Formula One driver. As an astronaut, she landed on the moon four years before Neil Armstrong. Is there anything that Barbie can’t do?

Well, she can’t keep her sales up. In January, Mattel reported a 13 percent drop in the doll’s fourth quarter sales. Now, the company’s looking to revitalize the brand by adding another title to her résumé: feminist.

At least in theory. The strategy makes sense—Barbie’s 18-inch waist never sat well with human feminists. But instead of taking a page from Simone de Beauvoir (too obvious, perhaps?), Barbie’s gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated’s 50th swimsuit anniversary issue—in a bikini, of course.

“We’re focusing on the legendary women of Sports Illustrated who, like Barbie, launched their careers in a swimsuit,” Mattel’s senior vice president of marketing told The New York Times. The doll will join former cover models such as Tyra Banks and Kathy Ireland, who have since built successful business empires. Under #Unapologetic, the marketing campaign has taken to the billboards and social media.

A Mattel spokesperson told Time, “In essence, Barbie is always asked to apologize for what she looks like.... The message there is to be unapologetic.”

The issue will hit newsstands on Feb. 18.

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