TikTok's Barbie Foot Challenge Is Riskier Than You Think

Even Google turns pink after you type in "Barbie" and hit enter. And it's no wonder that the 2023 movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling and directed by Greta Gerwig has the world in a rose-colored glow. From channeling confidence while sporting radiant pink outfits and calling it "Barbiecore" to now apparently trying (and posting) the Barbie foot challenge on TikTok, fans are embracing all things Barbie. 

But health experts are more than a little concerned about the Barbie foot challenge that's garnered more than a million views on the social media platform, just like they were about TikTok's viral handstand challenge. The Barbie foot challenge is seeing enthusiastic TikTok users trying to emulate 33-year-old Robbie's iconic scene in the movie where she effortlessly slips off her fluffy pink heels, holding the shape of perfect arched feet as she walks away on her tiptoes. 

According to board-certified podiatrist at Foot, Ankle and Leg Vein Center, Dr. Jodi R. Schoenhaus (via New York Post), while the challenge may make someone's legs seem longer, it's still dangerous — especially if done continuously. She told the news outlet, "If someone attempts the pose once or twice, they will likely be ok and produce a great TikTok video. However, if attempting the pose and stride over long periods, there are some risks involved. The ankle is unstable, which can lead to ligament sprains and injuries, commonly seen with high heel use." Getting the perfect video for your feed, then, might not be worth that third or fourth take.

The Barbie walk is just not natural

Mattel's famous doll Barbie is loved for many reasons, its perfectly arched feet being one. But that doesn't mean that we can comfortably or safely do what Barbie can and was designed to do — walk on high-arched feet. Director Gerwig may have wanted to avoid CGI and use Robbie's "beautiful dancer feet" instead. But even Robbie, a former ballet dancer, confessed to needing eight takes and a bar to hold on to when she performed the now-viral scene, used on preview clips before the movie was released (via Fandango). 

Board-certified foot and ankle surgeon with Dallas Direct Podiatry, Dr. Nam Tran (via Bustle) emphasizes that a Barbie doll's feet aren't realistic. You only have to take a look at the different kinds of feet you see around you to know that. Even if someone were to have naturally arched feet, standing on your tip toes and walking around all day long can cause problems. These include big toe pain and plantar fasciitis, according to the surgeon. 

Schoenhaus added another concern with the challenge. There's no support for the feet — unlike when you're holding that high-arched posture while wearing heels. "Considering we aren't trained ballerinas en pointe, let's keep the fad to movie stars who have props and multiple takes to make it look perfect," shared the podiatrist. Heels, too, are riskier than you think. In fact, they may be doing real damage to your legs, back, and feet.

Heels don't necessarily make the Barbie foot posture healthy

Wearing heels might make you feel taller, more attractive, and confident — but it is also one of those things you're doing that is seriously hurting your feet. In fact, keeping your foot in a plantarflexed (downward extended) position for long periods of time forces you to put stress on your forefoot. As a result, you're forced to unnaturally adjust the positioning of your lower and upper body to find balance, according to Verywell Health

Heels also compromise the way we walk. While regular walking involves transferring weight from the heels, through the arch, to the balls of your feet, heeled feet don't allow you to push off the ground as you normally would. This causes strain on your knees and hip flexor muscles.

Injuries (particularly ankle-related) are also a possible risk when wearing heels. As explained by podiatrist and the founder of Fix Your Feet, Dr. Yolanda Ragland (via Insider), "[Y]ou could've just put on the shoe and headed out, literally take one step and step on a pebble, and then turn your foot inward and then either strain or break the ligament structures around what we call the lateral side of the ankle — so the outer part of the ankle — and it's called a lateral ankle sprain." Ultimately, the health of our feet depends greatly on how we choose to stand and walk on them, so it might be a good idea to skip this challenge.