It was headline news a couple months ago. Barbie, the doll, was featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, part of a tribute for the fifty-year anniversary celebration of the magazine’s most popular annual issue. The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, and the Washington Post covered the story; dozens more articles appeared in online publications. “At age fifty-five,” quipped the accompanying feature article in Sports Illustrated, Barbie was the magazine’s oldest “rookie” model but “we’re not buying her ‘no plastic surgery’ claim.” In the days that followed, there was so much negative buzz flying through cyberspace about her appearance in the magazine that Mattel, Barbie’s representative, tweeted that Barbie was #unapologetic about her posing in the Swimsuit issue. Sports Illustrated followed, echoing the same sentiment.
A few weeks later, it was announced that the Girl Scouts was severing its partnership with Barbie, since she no longer lives up to the ideals that both she and the Girl Scouts once shared: She is no longer a member of the “Be Anything, Do Anything” team that inspires girls to “dream and explore a world without limits.” The Barbie Scout Patch will be ripped from the sashes of Girl Scouts nationwide, and Barbie, one can only surmise, will be #unapologetic about this event as well.
What is all the brouhaha about? In the Sports Illustrated article, Barbie wears a modest, one-piece, black-and-white striped swimsuit — the very same suit that she wore for her first appearance over fifty years ago (and kudos to her for still being able to squeeze into it).