TORONTO — For the first time in 56 years — that’s how old Barbie is — the iconic doll will finally be able to kick off her heels and throw on a pair of flats, thanks in part to a new pair of adjustable ankles.
Until now, Barbie’s feet have been in permanently perched in pumps. Aside from being a bit more anatomically correct, Barbie’s looks are also set for a diversity makeover.
She will now come in “eight different skin tones, 14 different facial sculpts, 18 eye colors, 22 hair styles, and 23 hair colors,” according to Cosmopolitan. The changes are part of Mattel’s new Fashionista line.
The Fashonistas are “just like real girls…each have a different look, personality and sense of style,” reads the description on the site.
So the “Career of the Year Film Director Doll,” for instance, “with her new articulated ankle…can go from running-around-the-set flats to movie-premiere heels! She comes with adorable black flat shoes and hip heeled boots to make sure she’s ready for any occasion.”
The dolls are part of the “continued evolution of the Barbie brand,” Mattel said.
The evolution comes on the heels (pun!) of a recent controversy at Cannes, where women not wearing high heels were turned away from a premiere.
Last year, a study in France measured the power of high-heeled shoes. The results, published online in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, may please the purveyors of Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo shoes – yet frustrate those who think stilettos encourage sexism.
The study found if a woman drops a glove on the street while wearing heels, she’s almost 50 per cent more likely to have a man fetch it for her than if she’s wearing flats.
Another finding: A woman wearing heels is twice as likely to persuade men to stop and answer survey questions on the street. And a high-heeled woman in a bar waits half the time to get picked up by a man, compared to when her heel is nearer to the ground.
The well-heeled Marilyn Monroe reportedly once said if you give a girl the right shoes, she can conquer the world. Barbie’s new flats may be one small step in letting girls know those shoes don’t have to be heels.