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Sports Illustrated Barbie: Why She’s The Ultimate Female Insult

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Sports Illustrated's 2014 swimsuit issue cover. Is it fake? Or is it just poor taste?

Sports Illustrated’s 2014 swimsuit issue cover. Is it fake? Or is it just poor taste?

Sports Illustrated’s decision to put a Barbie Doll on the cover of its 50th Anniversary swimsuit issue has to be a hoax; otherwise it’s a cruel joke for women who have grown up under the stigma of the doll’s impossible feminine proportions.

The cover is expected to be officially unveiled on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” tonight (Feb. 13) The magazine will hit newsstands on Tuesday (Feb. 18)

The Barbie doll, launched in 1959 by Mattel, was supposed to symbolize the modern ideal woman, beautiful and fashionable with a breezy Malibu Beach lifestyle. But the doll has been under attack for almost as long by feminists and child psychologists, repelled by what she represents–unattainable feminine beauty.

If Barbie were a real person, she would have bust, waist and hip measurements of 36-16-33. Fewer than one in 100,000 women are genetically capable of sharing her physique, according to researchers at the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland.

Barbie would also have an anorexic “Body Mass Index,” according to the hospital. She would clock in around 16.24 percent, below the minimum 17 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate.

Mattel has steadfastly refused to change her proportions. The company’s chief designer claims her body shape is necessary to “accommodate” her clothes, according to FastCo Design. Barbie doll and accessory sales generated $1.3 billion a year for the company.

Girls age three to 10 reportedly own eight Barbies on average, according to one report. Early dolls and their clothes have become collector’s items.

Likewise, girls aged five-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half who own Barbies have had significantly greater body dissatisfaction and a stronger desire for a thinner body shape when they grow up, according to Developmental Psychology, a journal published by The American Psychological Association.

In fact, the impact on children is so great it’s known in professional circles as the “Barbie Effect.” It’s officially recognized not as a symptom, but a cause of anorexia, according to a 2006 study by Britain’s University of Sussex cited by the article.

“Barbie is no longer a doll, she’s a sex doll, wrote one blogger about the issue.

Sports Illustrated has been promoting Barbie as “the doll that started it all,” and uses the hashtag “#Unapologetic” to create buzz on social media about the upcoming issue.

Before this firestorm is over, the magazine may be changing that hashtag to #veryapologetic.”

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