Barbie will appear in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, set to hit newsstands Feb. 18, as part of the magazine's effort to focus on "legendary women."
Mattel and Sports Illustrated are collaborating on the advertising campaign, themed “unapologetic,” in the 50th anniversary edition of the swimsuit issue, according to The New York Times
. Both brands have received criticism for the way they portray women.
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But Barbie spokeswoman Lisa McKnight told The New York Times that the effort to redefine Barbie aligns with former swimsuit models, including Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley, Kathy Ireland, and Heidi Klum, who are recognized for their accomplishments as entrepreneurs and career women.
“We’re focusing on the legendary women of Sports Illustrated who, like Barbie, launched their careers in a swimsuit,” said McKnight, who said Barbie has had 150 careers.
Sports Illustrated also defended its portrayal of women.
"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,” Editor M. J. Day said, according to Ad Age
Walter Iooss Jr., who has photographed models for the SI swimsuit issue, photographed Barbie, who will appear in a version of the swimsuit she wore when she was introduced in 1959.
The campaign will feature 22 dolls, and Mattel is releasing a collector doll related to the event, The Los Angeles Times reports
The campaign has spurred debate on Twitter.
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