February 15, 2014 in Nation/World

Barbie is cover girl for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue

Mae Anderson Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

This image provided by Sports Illustrated shows the cover-wrap of the magazine’s 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – After 50 years of debate over her unattainably perfect figure, Barbie now is unapologetic about her tiny waist and endless legs.

To prove it? The doll, made by Mattel, is flaunting her frame in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 50th anniversary issue that’s hitting stands on Tuesday. She’ll be featured alongside supermodels like Christie Brinkley and Brooklyn Decker as part of a campaign called “unapologetic.”

Mattel has tried to change Barbie with the times. The 55-year-old doll has gone through several reinventions, including 150 careers, from architect to lifeguard, and a brief publicity-stunt breakup with her boyfriend, Ken.

Barbie is worth an estimated $1.3 billion in sales for the toymaker and she’s the No. 1 toy brand.

But she has lost popularity lately to edgier toys like Mattel’s Monster High dolls with their tattoos and neon hair. In fact, Barbie has had declining sales in five of the last six quarters, with sales falling 13 percent in the most recent quarter.

As part of the campaign, there will be a collector Sports Illustrated Barbie doll, an event at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beach House on Monday, a billboard in New York’s Times Square and @Barbie tweets with the hashtag “unapologetic” on Twitter. Barbie also will appear on the cover of 1,000 issues in an advertising “cover wrap” for the New York Toy Fair, which starts Sunday.

“Unapologetic” is a word that Mattel executives use internally, said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president at Mattel, but this is the first time the company is “engaging in a conversation publicly.”

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