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Barbie appearance in 50th anniversary SI Swimsuit Issue raises a ruckus online

Barbie SI
Mattel

Barbie has been criticized -- or at least Mattel has -- for promoting an unrealistic image for young women. That being said, what do young men think of her? We'll soon find out, as although the cover model for the 50th anniversary issue oc the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is still secret, it's been revealed, via Creativity on Tuesday, that Barbie will make an appearance in its pages.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue hits newsstands on Feb. 18, next week.

A Mattel spokeswoman said:

Barbie is a legend in her own right, with more than 150 careers and a brand valued at $3 billion. She is in great company with the other legends such as Heidi Klum and Christie Brinkley, to name a few.

As a legend herself, and under criticism about her body and how she looks, posing in "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit" gives Barbie and her fellow legends an opportunity to own who they are, celebrate what they have done, and be unapologetic.

Swimsuit Editor M. J. Day said in a statement that the Barbie appearance was -- rather than being negative -- a positive for 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.

After news of the Barbie appearance became public, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook saw quite a few negative posts about her selection. A post on the Mommyish blog, for example, sported the headline “The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Will Feature Barbie, So Your Daughter Can Feel Bad Too.”

The unrealistic image Barbie is said to promote can be seen by extrapolating her measurements. Wikipedia says that a standard Barbie doll would be 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a bust of 36 inches, a waist of 18 inches, 33-inch hips. Researchers at the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, said Barbie would lack the 17 - 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate.

In case you are wondering, Mattel paid for the opportunity to put Barbie into the 50th anniversary commemoration of the SI Swimsuit Issue. Financial details were not forthcoming.

The campaign will include a four-page advertising feature in the issue. Walter Iooss Jr., who has been shooting the magazine’s swimsuit models for four decades, shot the feature, too. There will be video clips, a cover wrap that will appear on 1,000 copies of the issue, confirming Barbie as “The Doll That Started It All,” a limited-edition Sports Illustrated Barbie, to be sold exclusively at Target.com; and a beach-themed party on Monday night in Lower Manhattan.