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That Controversial Barbie Sports Illustrated 'Cover' Sold a Lot of Barbies

The accompanying limited-edition, bathing-suit-clad dolls are flying off the shelves at Target, where they're exclusively being stocked.
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Perhaps in the way that a Sports Illustrated cover can be a boon to a model's career, it has also turned out to be a boon to Barbie's.

Sports Illustrated's decision to put the doll in its 50th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue promotional plastic cover wraps (she didn't appear on any actual covers) drew ire from some, but ultimately worked out well for Mattel.

In a story detailing how the Barbie "cover" came to be, Bloomberg reported Wednesday afternoon that the accompanying limited-edition dolls are flying off the shelves at Target, where they're exclusively being sold. More than half of the striped-one-piece-clad Barbies sold out in the first two days they were available, and they're already popping up on eBay for nearly $60 (they were originally priced at $19.99).

Mattel credits the doll's success to not only the campaign's visibility, but also to the way in which it started a conversation. A spokeswoman for the company even told Bloomberg that the campaign was a nod to Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. Yet it only gave people a new reason to bring up the unrealistic body standards that Barbies promote. And Barbie responded, by penning an essay on her website. Yep. Here's an excerpt:

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My bathing suit now hangs beside a Presidential power suit, Pastry Chef hat, and Astronaut gear in a wardrobe reflecting the more than 150 careers I’ve pursued to illustrate for girls that they can achieve anything for which they aim. And yet, I am still seen as just a pretty face. It’s simpler to keep me in a box -- and since I am a doll -- chances are that’s where I’ll stay.

We're sure all this controversy was the last thing Barbie's inventors envisioned coming out of her fame, but now that it has, we guess this is how Mattel is dealing with it. And so far it seems to be paying off.