Robert Dominic Ventre II
Staff WriterYou have to admire the sheer gall of this promotion: Sports Illustrated magazine and Mattel, creators of the famed Barbie doll toy line, have joined forces for campaign entitled “Unapologetic”. The partnership will see Barbie both on the cover and posing inside Sport Illustrated's swimsuit edition wearing a new versionof her original black-and-white striped swimsuit (which the doll wore upon its introduction to the market), to the vocal alarm of several critics online. wrote of the story under the headline: “The Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Will Feature Barbie, So Your Daughter Can Feel Bad Too.” Eve Vawter, a writer for Mommyish, had a bone to pick with this statement, made by a Mattel spokeswoman when addressing outrage at Barbie's inclusion: “Barbie is a legend in her own right, with more than 150 careers and a brand valued at $3 billion,” the spokeswoman said. “She is in great company with the other legends such as Heidi Klum and Christie Brinkley, to name a few.” Vawter responded by arguing that Barbie's introduction to the Sports Illustrated pantheon of beautiful women was not only exploitative of young girls, it also promotes an even more absurd standard for female beauty by the fact that Barbie is, effectively, immortal and perfect: “And the other troubling aspect of this is, even though Klum and Brinkley have aged, and have aged beautifully, Barbie hasn’t. She still looks exactly the same as she did 50 years ago. She isn’t risking shit by appearing in a bathing suit, because it isn’t like she has stretch marks or wrinkles that will need to be photoshopped in the spread.” Vawter continued with her argument, questioning the decision and its motives: “The Swimsuit Issue isn’t for little kids. It’s for adults. Why add a kid’s toy into the mix?” In response, Mattel design VP Kim Culmone has countered the backlash by saying that, "Barbie's body was never designed to be realistic,". Sports Illustrated has also thrown its opinion into the fray, with Swimsuit editor M. J. Day defending the decision thusly: "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." Barbie was also, apparently, interviewed by People magazine, and had this to say regarding the “photoshoot”: “I am honored to stand in such great company alongside amazing women who are so much more than just a pretty face. These women exemplify that you can be both capable and captivating.” In what had to be the most unusual shoot of his career, veteran Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss, Jr. captured Barbie's glossy, plastic-molded essence, where Barbie described being, “... a little nervous to work with a legend like [photographer] Walter Iooss, but he was such a doll! We had a blast.” Ken might have to work pretty hard to keep Barbie on his arm after this new exposure. Having already had a makeover in 2006 to win back her love after she was stolen away by an Australian surfer named Blaine, it may be time for the non-action-figure to seek out a magazine cover of his own. No, none of that was a joke.
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