Barbie has been many things in her life: A doctor, a paleontologist, an astronaut, a cheerleader, a race car driver and a candidate for the US presidency.
Now, on the threshold of her 55th birthday, the world’s most famous doll is stirring up a social media frenzy with her debut in Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary swimsuit edition.
In a tie-in with toymaker Mattel Inc, the top-selling US sports weekly has cast the leggy — if anatomically impossible — all-American doll on a mock cover, sporting a black-and-white one-piece reminiscent of the one she wore when introduced in 1959.
“The Doll that Started it All,” reads the headline on the cover, which is being wrapped around some issues of the magazine.
The Twitter hashtag #unapologetic features in the joint marketing campaign, which will also include ads in the magazine.
“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,” M.J. Day, the Sports Illustrated senior editor responsible for the iconic and highly lucrative special edition, said in a statement.
Sports Illustrated launched the swimsuit edition in 1964 to prop up circulation between the US football and baseball seasons. Now a stand-alone product, it is the best-selling of Time Inc’s titles.
The swimsuit issue comes out on Tuesday with a bikini-clad Chrissy Teigen, Nina Agdal and Lily Aldridge on the cover, posing on a sun-kissed tropical beach with their toned buttocks well exposed.
However, it is Barbie — or more precisely the notion of giving her top billing in a magazine that pitches sun, sea and sex to impressionable US males in the dead of winter — that has fired up the blogosphere.
“This is what is known as obvious trolling,” Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote at Salon.com. “You plan on getting mad again this year about hot, barely clothed women in a sports magazine again this year, world? Here. Here’s a plastic one ... a freaking mass-produced doll.”
“Just as the swimsuit issue isn’t for the kids, Barbie isn’t for the grown-ups either,” Mommyish.com editor Eve Vawter added. “Barbie is no longer just a doll. She is a sex doll. Think about that the next time your daughter wants one in the toy aisle.”
Alas, on the eve of the New York Toy Show and hard on the heels of New York fashion week, Barbie is grappling with the middle-aged fear that she is no longer hot stuff.
Publicly listed Mattel revealed in January that worldwide gross sales of its Barbie products fell 6 percent last year and 3 percent in 2012, putting a drag on the profitability of the world’s biggest toy manufacturer.
“We just didn’t sell enough Barbie dolls,” Mattel chief executive Bryan Stockton said in a conference call with financial analysts, although its other doll lines, such as Monster High, are faring better.
Barbie — whose brand is valued at US$3 million, a tad more than Oprah Winfrey’s estimated worth — is no stranger to controversy.
She has regularly been faulted in the past for setting an unrealistic example for young girls with her impossibly lithe figure, fabulous wardrobe and storybook romance with dashing boyfriend Ken.
If 29cm-tall Barbie was a full-grown US woman, she would have a 81cm bust, a 40cm waist and 74cm hips, as well as a child’s size three foot, according to Rehabs.com, a Web site that addresses eating disorders.
Lindsey Feitz, who lectures on gender and women’s studies at the University of Denver in Colorado, considered it “ethically dubious” to use a girl’s doll to sexualize girlhood in a magazine seen mainly by men.
“We’ve evolved from the ink drawings of pin-ups in the 1940s to chronic Photoshopping and digital body alterations of today’s cover models,” Feitz told reporters by e-mail.
“And now the model has disappeared and been replaced with a plastic representation of a sexy girl/woman. It’s ironic,” she added.
Facebook Inc on Wednesday reported its profit doubled in the second quarter as digital advertising surged, but warned of cooler growth in the months ahead in an update that sent its shares sinking. Profit rose to US$10.4 billion on revenue of US$29 billion, a 56 percent increase from last year, mainly from an increase in ad revenue, Facebook said. The number of people using the social network monthly climbed to 2.9 billion, a year-on-year gain of 7 percent, while about 3.5 billion people used at least one of the company’s apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. “We had a strong quarter, as we
FURTHER TAX MEASURES NEEDED? Corporate owners accounted for almost 30 percent of empty houses, many of which are held by firms that own 10 or more properties The number of unoccupied houses nationwide totaled 876,000 units last year, or 11.94 percent of all houses, the Ministry of the Interior said in a report issued on Thursday. Almost 30 percent of empty houses were owned by companies, suggesting that many corporate property owners engage in house hoarding, the ministry said. Excluding developers and builders, companies still owned 20 percent of empty houses, it said. The report is based on housing units’ electricity use and considers properties that use less than 60 kilowatt-hours per month as unoccupied. The study contradicts Ministry of Finance reports saying that house hoarding subsided and there is no
The Investment Commission has approved a plan by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, to expand production at its plant in Nanjing, China. The plan was approved because the investment would come from the chipmaker’s earnings from the Nanjing plant and would not have an impact on its paid-in capital, the commission said. In addition, TSMC has pledged to invest NT$600 billion (US$21.43 billion) to NT$650 billion in Taiwan to create more jobs over the next three years, and has made efforts to protect intellectual property to prevent confidential business information from being leaked, it said. The
‘No SUPPLY BOTTLENECK’: Shipments would proceed as planned from the facility, which produces processors for a new line of iPhones to be launched next month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC, 台積電) shipments would not be affected by the contamination of gas used in the manufacturing process at one of its key plants in Tainan, the firm said yesterday. While some TSMC production lines in Tainan’s Southern Taiwan Science Park received gas supplies that were found to be substandard, the chipmaker continued production using gas from other sources, the company said. Local media reported that the contamination was discovered at the world’s largest contract chipmaker’s Fab 18 on Thursday night and that production would be affected during four days of cleanup work. While not confirming that the contamination