#Unapologetic Barbie: Sorry campaign or shrewd controversy?

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<i>This post has been corrected. See note below for details.</i>

Barbie isn’t sorry anymore. She’s taken to the pages of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition to come out with a message for all the haters, in all of her plastic, unrealistically sculpted glory.

With her hair and diminutive shoulders pulled back, she appears in a black-and-white one-piece declaring, “This is #unapologetic,” in Mattel’s latest effort to bring Barbie back into the cultural conversation -- on its terms.

“She very much has a place in societal conversation as well -- we’re always talking to multiple audiences,” said Mattel spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni.


Clearly, the campaign and the SI spread featuring 22 dolls aren’t aimed at our children of doll-playing age.

“This program is about underscoring who you are, being unapologetic about who you are and celebrating that alongside all these great women and legends who are more than just pretty faces,” Chidoni said.

Over the years, Barbie has been slammed for her curves being too dramatic, her waist being too cinched, her legs being too thin and too long, and her feet being too small and never touching the ground. Talk about a recipe for body image issues.

I’ll probably have my women’s college cred revoked for even suggesting this, but does the campaign turn on its side the years-long criticism about whether Barbie is damaging to the psyche and self-image of girls everywhere who live out their childhood fantasies through her?

In some surreal ways, one might argue, the now-55-year-old Barbie has endured the same kind of public dissection and judgment about her body that girls and women do. And now, she’s taking to the realm of the utterly unreal image to reclaim her identity. A tad ironic.

The response on social media has been rather mixed -- ranging from being panned to celebrated. Below is a sampling of some responses.


Should Mattel be #unapologetic about its iconic doll? Tell me on Twitter: @mmaltaisLAT

[For The Record, 1:03 p.m. PST Feb. 14: An earlier version of this post suggested that Barbie was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Chrissy Teigen, Nina Agdal and Lily Aldridge were on the cover; Barbie appears inside the magazine.]