Sexualizing toys hits new low: Barbie makes cover of SI’s swimsuit issue

Sports Illustrated announced Barbie will be on the cover of the magazine’s 50th anniversary swimsuit issue.


Sports Illustrated, do you realize every time my 4 year old or 7 year old daughter sees the cover of your magazine, she will think that it’s made for her? About her?

I guess you do, because Target will be selling a limited edition of the SI Barbie to coincide with this issue of the magazine.

So grown-ups, once again, are teaching kids that females are valued for how their bodies look while males are valued for what their bodies can do. I am so fucking disgusted. I cannot believe the sexualization of girls is this mainstream, accepted, normal, and OK.

The Atlantic reports:

In the 57 years since Sports Illustrated‘s founding, a woman has appeared on a (non-swimsuit issue) cover 66 times—on average, just over once a year.


Your tagline for the campaign is #unapologetic. So you’re not sorry– proud rather– that you are contributing to a culture where we are all so used to girls being sexualized? Do you get the damage you are helping to create?

The American Psychological Association reports:

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.


Statistics on sexual abuse show 1 in 5 girls is sexually abused.

Sports Illustrated, how can you be #unapologetic?

Update: Love this comment on Reel Girl’s Facebook page from RG fan Sarah Schiebel:

To me this just proves Barbies are NOT really children’s toys at all! Maybe that’s what they are “unapologetic” about? As in “Haha, suckers! You’ve been buying your daughters miniature sex dolls for 50+ years!”


9 thoughts on “Sexualizing toys hits new low: Barbie makes cover of SI’s swimsuit issue

  1. Margot – your posting on the Barbie/SI thing sparked me to write about it on my own new blog: You’re gonna make it after all (Mary Tyler Moore and me – women’s role models).

    I finally launched the blog this month, inspired in part by your thought-provoking Reel Girl.
    I see that I’m not the only one perhaps inspired by your blog and sharing the desire to help people realize how far we need to go to have gender equality. I’ll check out Nebbie’s blog too (and poor mr. h. should get some help).

    Thanks for keeping an eye on the media and how much needs to change. My blog will be joining yours, with a bent toward current news of “Where are women now?” and the history of where we’ve been since 1960.

    • Hi kristin,

      I just saw the cover at Walgreens. Its so awful! I’m so happy I wasnt shopping with my daughters (though I was buying FOR them, toothpaste and barrettes.) UGH

      Excited about your blog, keep it up!


  2. As disgusted as I am by the Barbie/SI Swimsuit (aka, soft porn) issue, it is important to your argument to note that Barbie is not on the cover. She appears inside the magazine. The cover features 3 almost naked women.

    • Hi Jodi,

      It’s a “promotional overlap” To me, the difference is language only known in publishing (and not used all over the internet) My kids are not going to be like, “That’s a promotional overlap, mom.” From “The cover girl for the 50th annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue has been revealed, and it’s … Barbie! Yes, the iconic, all-American doll made by Mattel!…It appears that the Barbie SI cover is not the actual cover, as it says “pomotional overwrap,” but reports say it will thus be wrapped around many copies. – See more at:…/barbie-sports…/..

  3. Who do you want SI to put on their cover? The WNBA? LPGA? You do know they run a business where their magazines are sold to almost all men. Sorry your tiny brain (not as a women, but as a person with low mental capacities) cannot understand that. No wonder your mommy ran away from you and moved to France. Margot, the only man you seem to like is a child molester in prison. Do you find that a problem? Please understand you have serious mental problems. Several months in a psych ward will do wonders for you and will make you children much better in the long run.

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