WASHINGTON — After more than half a century, Barbie finally has some relief for her aching feet.

Mattel, the toy company that manufactures the iconic American doll, has released a line of “Fashionista” Barbies, which can wear flat-soled shoes for the first time.

Ever since Mattel first introduced Barbie in 1959, she’s been forced to hobble around in high heels. Even when you took off her stilettos or platform shoes, her plastic feet remained in a rigid tiptoe stance.

The 23 new “Fashionista” Barbie dolls not only have flexible ankles that can accommodate either heels or flats, but they also come in a more diverse variety: eight skin tones, 14 face shapes, 22 hairdos, 23 hair colors and 18 eye colors.

“The Barbie Fashionistas line was designed to represent the world girls see around them,” Ani Istanboulian, a spokeswoman for Mattel, explained in an email Thursday.

With their “authentic street style (hence why many of them rock flats), this line represents the continued evolution of the Barbie brand,” Istanboulian wrote.


The news generated much online buzz this week as grown-ups who’d long pitied Barbie’s plight reacted to the change in footwear.

“Finally, Barbie has been set free of her misery,” MTV Style gushed.

“There’s no word on if or when an official Mattel plus-size Barbie is in the works, but in plastic world, this is all huge news,” declared a Cosmopolitan article that got more than 10,000 shares on Facebook. “One small step for Barbie, one huge leap for womankind.”

Mattel’s Barbie website already displays numerous Fashionista dolls for sale wearing flats.

One “Film Director” doll is outfitted in jeans, scarf, pink top, utility belt and black flats. “And with her new articulated ankle,” the ad reads, “this professional can go from running-around-the-set flats to movie-premiere heels!”

The “Pink Petals” Barbie wears a feathery pink skirt and white tank top, along with “an amazing pair of silver flats and the perfect matching silver bag.”

The “Teresa” doll sports a jean skirt, flower-print top and what appears to be a pair of nude gladiator sandals. She’s “ready for anything dressed in a trendy outfit that’s perfect for daytime or nighttime fun,” the ad proclaims.

Unfortunately, the switch to flats doesn’t seem to have solved at least one longtime problem for these Barbies: Mattel warns that the leggy, big-busted dolls still “cannot stand alone.”

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