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What’s Up With “Barbie Feet” Trend?

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If you were someone who played with Barbie, you are definitely aware that Barbie’s feet remain in a high arch, ready to take on high heels, and chances are even if you did not play with Barbie yourself, you are familiar with this feature. Why are Barbie’s feet the way they are, and does it matter? Is there any greater meaning to that high arched foot, other than what meets the eye?

The new Barbie movie is out, and the trailer is built around an iconic image of Barbie stepping out of her heels – as her feet remain in that tiptoe, high arched position.

Experts Weigh In

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling from the Barbie movie.
Photo credit: Jean_Nelson via DepositPhotos.

In a CNN interview, Elizabeth Semmelhack, the Senior Curator and Director of the world famous Bata Shoe Museum, said, “the moment when she steps out of her shoes and maintains her Barbie foot was fantastic!”

The scene has created a TikTok and social media trend of people walking around on their tiptoes, highlighting their own arched feet. The ready-to-wear heels design that was present in the very first Barbie, in 1959.

The Original Barbie, Heels and All

Barbie's clothing designer.
Photo credit: Nelson Tiffany, Los Angeles Times.

Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator, was inspired by a German doll called Bild Lilli, that was originally meant as an adult gift. Lilli, in turn, was based on a risqué adult cartoon. She was meant to be the “image of female desirability, but she also had an edge to her,” according to Semmelhack.

The image above is of Barbie’s first clothing designer Charlotte Johnson, posing with a 1965 Barbie doll model in high heel sandals.

Mattel Recreates The Doll

Barbie with blonde hair.
Photo credit: ErikaWittlieb via Canva.

Mattel, the US toy manufacturer, decided to buy the rights to the doll, bring it to America, and refashion it as a children’s toy. One feature that they retained were the high arched feet, that fit into black high heels.

When the shoe came off (kids like to dress and undress their dolls), the foot retained that shape. This meant Barbie could not stand on flat feet, and also limited the type of shoes she could wear.

High Heel History

Elizabeth Taylor standing on tip toe.
Photo credit: PublicDomain.

Semmelhack explains that high heels already had quite a history. Dating back to the 20s, beauty contests would show contestants in outfits not meant for high heels – namely bathing suits – but they had them wearing heels anyway.

Many photos from the “pin-up” years and into the 50s show women in bathing suits walking around and posing in bare feet, but on their toes, as if they had heels on.

Stars such as Elizabeth Taylor were photographed like this, and most importantly, it is even seen in home photos. It was part of the culture.

What Does Standing on Tiptoe Mean?

Barbie in float.
Photo credit: via DepositPhotos.

“I’ve likened this to them wearing a ghost heel. By standing on their tiptoes, they are connecting to the vocabulary of fashion-ability and desirability that was so central to the look of femininity in the 1950s,” explains Semmelhack.

The Barbie Doll & Fashion Choices

Assorted barbies.
Photo credit: Ovedc/CC.

By the 1960s, Barbie was a “career girl” and the doll was presented in various guises including nurse, flight attendant, and fashion designer, but the footwear remained the same: high heels of some sort.

Why Didn’t Barbie Have Flat Feet?

doll legs.
Photo credit: Yuliasis via DepositPhotos.

It has been observed that one reason why Barbie might not have developed a different foot shape is that it was costly to change the mold of a mass produced item. And the dolls were popular as they were for decades.

In addition, according to Semmelhack, women at this time were expanding their place in society and taking on many more jobs. At the same time, they were concerned with being able to retain their sense of femininity (as it was defined at the time).

“There were huge concerns that if a woman became a doctor, or went to outer space, that she would cease to be a woman, and the high heel was a way of reaffirming that you can be both an attractive, desirable woman, and you can have a career,” articulates Semmelhack.

Feet Forward Thinking

Barbie in sneakers.
Photo credit: JuliaGrin via DepositPhotos.

As women’s styles evolved in real life, so did Barbie’s feet – eventually. It was not until 2015, but at that time Mattel produced a Barbie with flat feet, and all new footwear, like sandals, soccer shoes, roller skates, and sneakers.

Still, Semmelhack believes that the iconic Barbie is the one with the high heel foot.

Barbie Feet Star in The Movie

Photo credit: Ssu/CC.

In the new movie, Barbie’s destiny is tied with her shoe choices.

“You can go back to your regular life,” says the character played by Kristen Wig, showing Barbie a stiletto heel, “or you can know the truth about the universe,” as she shows Barbie a flat Birkenstock. We don’t want to spoil the movie, so we won’t tell you what she picks.

What Is The Opposite of a Stiletto?

pink haired woman wearing pink heels.
Photo credit: PaulLeng via Canva.

Semmelhack describes why she thinks the Birkenstock was a brilliant choice for the movie: “I think that contrast says quite a bit. Birkenstocks, in particular, are historically linked to feminism, and they are the quintessential sensible shoe. The term ‘sensible shoe’ has long been used to deride women who are not interested in pursuing an eroticized display of self.

The centrality of footwear, and the centrality of the foot in an arched form or a flat-footed form says a lot about the politics of what women have to face almost daily in what we choose to wear.”

Heels or No Heels

assorted shoes.
Photo credit: Rachel Claire via Canva.

Heels or no heels, Barbie has captivated the world for decades, and the positive response of the movie will only propel her into the future – maybe with even more shoe choices.

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Sheetz Store 1.
Photo credit: Sheetz.

We scoured the Internet to see what people had to say about gas station food. If you think the only things available are wrinkled hotdogs of indeterminate age, and day-glow slushies, we’ve got great, tasty news for you. Whether it ends up being part of a regular routine, or your only resource on a long car trip, we have the food info you need. Let’s look at 6 gas stations that folks can’t get enough of and see what they have for you to eat. Read 6 Gas Station Chains With Food So Good It’s Worth Driving Out Of Your Way For

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Whether you eat to live, or live to eat, let’s make sure you live to see another day! These are some of the world’s deadliest foods. They can bring on extreme symptoms, ranging from paralysis to seizures, choking and even death, so don’t go tucking these into your lunchbox. Click for 18 of the World’s Deadliest Foods: How Many Are You Eating?

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tops of soda cans.
Breakingpic via Canva.

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man shocked.
Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio via Canva.

After you click through this slide show you will never look at a jar of mayo the same way again. Trust us. Click for 14 Of The Craziest Hacks People Use Mayonnaise For – Even In The Bedroom!

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Graphic of doctor not listening.
Photo credit: Aleuti via DepositPhotos.

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Learn the signs and the ways in which you can take back control if this happens to you. Read: Take Back Control: How to Identify and Tackle Medical Gaslighting

Don’t Fall For These 17 Foods That Pretend To Be Healthy

coconut oil.
Photo credit: DanaTentis via Canva.

Have you heard the term “Dr. Google”? That’s when you turn to search engines and the Internet to provide health and medical information – and unless you know how to vet sources, it is a mine field of faulty information. Here are 17 foods that you might have heard are “healthy”, but we have the whole story. PS: the moment a food becomes a trend, research carefully. We’re looking at you bulletproof coffee!

Click for Don’t Fall For These 17 Foods That Pretend To Be Healthy

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white truffle.
Photo credit: fabrizio_esposito via Canva.

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Click for 17 Of The Most Expensive Foods In The World: Would You Pay This Much To Eat Any Of These?

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flamin' hot Cheetos.
Photo credit: PBT via DepositPhotos.

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What is the most overrated food in your opinion?

Click for 19 Of The World’s Most Overrated Foods

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pregnant women in airport in from of departure sign
Photo credit: cunaplus via DepositPhotos.

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woman holding cash.
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