Barbie Graces Sports Illustrated

Joining Tyra Banks, Kathy Ireland, Christie Brinkley and Kate Upton in celebrating 50 years of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is the brand’s newest model, Barbie.

Making her first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit appearance, Mattel’s Barbie, which launched in 1959 in a classic black and white bathing suit, appears in a modern take of that outfit in this month’s issue.

Mattel has also issued a collector’s edition Sports Illustrated Barbie doll, now available exclusively on Target.com.

"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," said MJ Day, editor, SI Swimsuit.

Photograph Walter Iooss Jr., who has shot 12 Swimsuit covers in the last five decades, shot the issue including a special editorial shoot featuring 22 Barbie dolls. The New York Times reports that Mattel paid Sports Illustrated an undisclosed sum for the integration.

The colloboration has caused a furor online about the impact this has on both brands' images, so much so that Barbie (aka Mattel) released a statement saying "Every year, Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit drums up conversation and controversy. Upon the launch of this year’s 50th anniversary issue, there will again be buzz and debate over the validity of the women in the magazine, questioning if posing in it is a blow to female equality and self-image. In 2014, does any woman in the issue seriously need permission to appear there? I, for one, am honored to join the legendary swimsuit models." Click here to read the full statement.

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