However, Barbie is inspiring some girls and women to try the “Barbie Foot Challenge”—recreating a scene from the movie where Barbie steps out of a high heel and onto the floor, holding her foot with the signature Barbie arch. The scene quickly became an iconic moment, with female viewers attempting to imitate that shoeless walk. But podiatrists say that this is a dangerous stunt that may seem harmless but can have dangerous results. The podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists want to weigh in on this new trend and speak to the potential hazards and risks of taking the Barbie Foot Challenge and engaging in this latest craze.
The Story Behind Barbie’s Feet
When Mattel invented Barbie in 1959, the company gave the doll slanted, arched feet because women were wearing stiletto heels at the time. Starlets like Marilyn Monroe drove the fashion, and Barbie was meant to be a stylish doll, so Mattel permanently arched her feet to wear high heels. In the real world, Barbie would have chronic foot issues if she always wore heels and walked on the balls of her feet. Likewise, the proportions of the doll would make it difficult for a real Barbie to stand upright and walk.
What Is the Barbie Foot Challenge?
Millions of people around the world have seen Barbie, and after a TikTok user posted her own video stepping out of a pair of high heels and keeping her foot arched, women have tried to replicate the movie scene by stepping out of their own shoes and doing the same.
“Show me how well you can do the #BarbieFootChallenge,” the TikTok user said.
Many people videotaped and posted themselves taking the Barbie Foot Challenge, some gaining millions of views. Some shoe designers created their own videos showing women Barbie-walking in their brand of high heels. Chrissy Teigen posted her own attempt on Instagram saying, “Ow!”
How the Barbie Foot Scene Was Filmed
What women may not know is that the scene from Barbie required movie magic. Margot Robbie, the star of Barbie, explained that she couldn’t step from her shoes without some double-sided tape and a hidden bar for body support. Both the tape and the bar helped steady her and take her weight off her feet. This helped prevent Robbie from suffering injuries such as ankle twists and foot sprains, and it took eight takes to get the scene right.
Risks of the Barbie Foot Challenge
Like so many other viral social media challenges, the Barbie Foot Challenge can be risky. In fact, medical professionals and podiatrists quickly spoke up to warn women about foot health concerns and related potential dangers of trying to recreate the Barbie movie foot scene.
Potential Foot Injuries From the Barbie Foot Challenge
- Ligament sprains and tears
- Foot and ankle fractures
- Growth plate damage
- Lower back and spine problems
- Muscle strain
- Metatarsalgia, an injury to the ball of the foot
- Inflammation between the metatarsal bones
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Equinus, a condition that limits the flexibility of the ankle joint
What Doctors Say About the Barbie Foot Challenge
The podiatrists at Alliance Foot and Ankle Specialists are not the only ones concerned with the possible health outcomes of trying to walk like Barbie. Other doctors have also spoken out about the Barbie Foot Challenge stating that while the Barbie Arch makes a woman's legs appear longer and toner, it is not without risk. If someone attempts the pose once or twice, they will likely be okay. However, if they attempt the pose and stride over long periods, there are some risks involved. The ankle is unstable in this position, which can lead to ligament sprains and injuries, commonly seen with high heel use.
Other health experts say that if girls and women spend too much time in the Barbie position, they are more likely to suffer stress fractures, plantar plate injuries, and sesamoiditis—inflammation in the balls of the feet. Attempting to force your feet into this unnatural position can affect a person’s balance and lead to falls and injuries. Because there is less stability in this stance, there is a high risk of an ankle inversion sprain.
Other Long-Term Healthcare Concerns
- The high-arched, tip-toe foot position places more strain on your low back, leading to muscle and spine problems.
- The pose can injure a girl’s growth plates.
- The position is more prone to injury in bare feet.
When a woman wears high heels, they have some support of the heel and rearfoot. However, in the Barbie Foot Challenge, there is no support, placing more strain on the body. One expert says that most women are not trained ballerinas, and this fad should be left to movie stars who have props and multiple takes to perfect it.
Another expert states that attempting to try the Barbie Walk repeatedly puts an unnatural strain on the feet. Doing this for extended periods of time can be dangerous and cause injuries, and it’s best to leave the Barbie Walk to Barbie.
Other Foot Problems if You Wear High Heels
If you’ve been hurt while attempting the Barbie Foot Challenge, you’ll likely need treatment for any number of possible foot or ankle injuries, including sprains and fractures. If you’ve performed the Barbie Foot Challenge repeatedly over an extended period of time, you may now have a condition such as Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis. If you wear high heels on a consistent basis, you may face changes in the structure of your foot, muscle imbalance, and chronic foot pain. You also may experience muscle fatigue. Because wearing high heels changes the natural position of your feet, you may have bunions, corns, and calluses.