So let’s look at the big picture.
A corporation that controls a huge amount of media – Time Warner – will place a doll on the front cover of the Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated – a sports magazine issue that showcases women’s bodies not as strong and athletic, but as semi-naked, photoshopped images in pornographic poses. That powerful corporation will promote the image on prominent billboards and throughout its media empire so no one can miss it. Then, a huge partnering corporation, the toy company Mattel, will introduce a special Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition of that doll in Target for little girls to play with.
Does this give anyone here the creeps? Does it occur to you that this might not be teaching girls a healthy message about their value in the world?
There’s a full examination of the situation at Beauty Redefined: Barbie and Sports Illustrated Teach Sexual Objectification for all Ages
Mattel and SI want your daughters to know that girls and women are to be looked at above all else — and must fit certain highly unattainable beauty ideals to be worthy of positive attention in any area of life, including the most popular sports magazine. Athletic prowess certainly won’t do it, unless you’re willing to strip and pose. In a world where advertising-fueled media is inescapable, where the pornography industry has infiltrated all aspects of pop culture, and sexualized female bodies sell everything from children’s toys to deodorant, it’s easy to feel like sex appeal is all women can/should offer.
And recall, please, if you hear anyone suggest that these images are “empowering” – what is truly empowering to girls is images of female athletes being athletic, not as sex objects.