The Hottest Model in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Is ... Barbie?

02/11/2014 at 03:20 PM ET

Barbie Sports IllustratedCourtesy Sports Illustrated

There are many legendary swimsuit models in the Sports Illustrated pantheon: Heidi Klum. Tyra Banks. Christie Brinkley. And now, for the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue, they’re being joined by a 55-year-old model who looks as good as the day as she was born and still has all her original parts (though to be fair, they are plastic): Barbie.

The iconic doll “posed” for the magazine’s “Legends” section in the upcoming issue (on stands Feb. 18) as part of her new “#unapologetic” campaign, in which she’s responding to critics by celebrating her 150+ careers, $3 billion worth and the fact that women can be beautiful as well as brainy (just see any of those legendary names above). Wearing the black-and-white chevron suit that first made her famous, Barbie tells us she was thrilled to be featured in the issue, “as it’s the 50th anniversary of an iconic brand and the celebration of legendary women who, like me, launched their career in a swimsuit but went on to establish empires.” Check out the rest of her exclusive interview below.

PHOTOS: See (and vote on!) the outfits your favorite stars are wearing on the red carpet!

Tell us about your photoshoot! Did you get to go to any exotic locations?
This year’s shoot was in Malibu. I was thrilled to host the SI Swimsuit team in my hometown, however, next year we are thinking Tahiti!

How many swimsuits did you try on for the shoot? How many do you own at home?
I knew that I wanted to wear my classic chevron black and white bathing suit, after, all it is my legendary look! Over the last 55 years, I’ve compiled quite the collection of swimsuits in every color and style, each of which is a reflection of the fashion trends from that era. One of my favorites is the aqua blue suit I wore in 1971 — it always brings me right back home to the beaches of Malibu!

Were you nervous to do a swimwear photoshoot, or is it just another day on the job for you?
In 1959, I was launched as a teenage fashion model in a bathing suit, so modeling swimwear brings me right back to my roots. I love new adventures and as a seasoned career gal, this was a great day on the job! I was a little nervous to work with a legend like [photographer] Walter Iooss, but he was such a doll! We had a blast.

Who are some SI swimsuit models you admire and why?
I could never choose a favorite! I am honored to stand in such great company alongside amazing women who are so much more than just a pretty face. These women exemplify that you can be both capable and captivating.

What are your best modeling tips?
First, strike a pose and hold it as if you can — I know, easy for me to say, I have a doll stand! Of course, you should always smile — remember, what you are doing is fun! Finally, have great support on set — I have a fantastic team that keeps me looking great!

What do you think of Barbie’s message in the SI swimsuit issue? Who do you think nabbed the cover this year?

–Alex Apatoff

FILED UNDER: BodyWatch , Exclusive , Swimwear
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Showing 8 comments

Sara on

I loved my Barbie doll when I was growing up. I never had any sort of “issues” because of her nor did I need therapy because of her perfect plastic-ness. I still love Barbie, she always has a smile on her face and her teeth are so nice and white. I never applied her looks as a standard for me anymore than I applied my other dolls or teddy bear! I ended up a normal adult. Why in is there all this silly crisis about Barbie’s proportions?

Mandy on

I too played with Barbie’s growing up & never had any body issues or compared myself to her. I just loved changing her into different out fits & fixing her hair. Maybe it affects kids today because they have no imagination & don’t know how to play!

angie on

I also let ved barbie and never compared myself to her….she’s a doll! Both my daughtes now play with barbie and my 12 year old says she is fun to dress up.

Lala on

I loved Barbie growing up! I still love walking down the Barbie aisle at the store. My opinion of myself, was never affected by her looks – and I never thought I was supposed to look like her. I obviously thought she was pretty – but knew she was just a doll.

Renee on

I grew up with Barbies also, and did not suffer any image issues, other than the normal teenage stuff. HOWEVER, kids are exposed to so much more body image junk now. Look on Instagram and the kids that post photos of four or so kids, asking to vote them out? What does that do to a kid? Barbie surely does not help these sorts of things. Kids are just handed different issues nowadays

Lori on

This is ridiculous! They should have used a plus sized barbie! Jk. I had to.

Marie on

She doesn’t look any different from the models that are usually on the cover.

Sharon on

I played with Barbie as a young girl, but also took her head off. Lol I didn’t care about dressing her up. I don’t like shopping or trying on clothes so that’s probably why! Im 34 and I really wasn’t at all bothered with it, I look at her as I guess a pop culture icon. But girls today are under a tremendous amt. of pressure. A different prressure than I ever had as a young girl. I did wander why Sports Illustrated like most people. This occured when winter olympics was on and wandered why they didn’t put a female skier or athlete on cover! I looked at the cover but didn’t buy it, and wouldn’t buy sports illustrated anway not until they have more diversity in terms of different skin tones. At least Barbie has a little bit of diversity in terms of ethnicity! :-)

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