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Barbie's 'Unapologetic' Sports Illustrated cover causes controversy

Sports Illustrated is known for swimsuit issues with models who reveal a little too much. That is one reason the new 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Barbie doll, who will appear in the 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, has stirred up some controversy among parents of little girls who see the doll as somewhat of a role model.

Vintage Barbie doll wearing the iconic black and white striped swimsuit
Target press kit
Mattel's 2014 Sports Illustrated Barbie doll
Press kit

Other controversy is based upon the fact a small segment feels Barbie and the Sports Illustrated models promote unrealistic body expectations. And at least one mom, Eve Vawter editor of the blog Mommyish, believes “Barbie is no longer just a doll. She is a sex doll.”

Mattel looks at it differently. They have always endeavored to promote the doll as an inspiration to young girls that they can do and be anything, that while "legends" like Barbie may have debuted as a fashion model in a swimsuit, they have gone on to break boundaries and shape culture. Barbie has, in fact, had more than 150 careers beyond just fashion model.

About the new SI Barbie doll, Mattel says that "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." The hashtag “#Unapologetic” is being used to promote the issue.

Although major news outlets who borrowed heavily from Reuters are reporting Barbie will be wearing her original swimsuit in the issue, this is not the case. The statuesque doll will be wearing another swimsuit patterned after her original but with a more modern look, similar to what Mattel did with the 50th anniversary Barbie doll in 2009. See the slideshow for photos of the swimsuits.

The SI cover featuring Barbie will be unveiled on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Feb 13, according to show representatives. The magazine is due to hit newsstands on Tuesday.

Mattel's Sports Illustrated Barbie Doll will be sold exclusively at Target. Let us know what you think about the controversy in the comments below.

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