Sports Illustrated Barbie cover ignites body image conversation - KMSP-TV

Sports Illustrated Barbie cover ignites body image conversation

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The swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated is an anticipated magazine for many, but the famously plastic model on the 50th anniversary of the edition is igniting conversations about body image.

A spokesperson for Mattel said Barbie's spread in Sports Illustrated is about being unapologetic about who you are and celebrating great women who are more than pretty faces -- but parents wonder if the move is sending the wrong message to young girls.

Since the very first Barbie was introduced back in 1959, she's donned everything from mod garb in the swinging 60s and has even become a fashionista with her own TV show. The iconic doll is now adding a new title to her resume: Sports Illustrated cover girl.

The magazine says Barbie will join the long list of super models like Cathy Ireland, Tyra Banks and Kate Uptown -- but at the Mall of America, where a new exhibit called the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience, many say the magazine's spread is more like a nightmare.

"She's supposed to be classier and more upscale than that," Tola Lorentz said. "It's like putting an American Girl doll on the cover."

Tola and Nate Lorentz live in Stillwater, and while their 5 daughters all played with Barbie dolls, they don't think it's appropriate for a child's toy to be on the cover of a magazine read mostly by young men.

"Not interested in it at all," Nate Lorentz said. "It's sexualizing a doll, a kid's toy."

Critics have argued for years that Barbie's unrealistically slim figure makes young girls feel bad about their own bodies, but parents like Nicole Daniels don't have a problem with the doll that started it all.

"I think it's nice," she said. "It's appropriate. If you raise your kids to be confident no matter what, they'll be fine."

Barbie has been a best-selling toy brand for decades, but sales have fallen off in recent years. The magazine officially hits newsstands on Tuesday, and the publicity stunt seems to be an attempt to make Barbie a bit more relevant.

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