Barbie steps up with flat shoes

barbie flats

Life in plastic is a little more fantastic now that Barbie can wear flat shoes.

In a big step toward anatomical correctness, Barbie dolls now have ankle joints that bend, giving the glamor girl a chance to wear something other than high heels for the first time.

Barbie dolls have come with their feet fixed in high-heel position since Mattel introduced the brand in 1959. But the toy maker is rolling out a new "articulated ankle" this year across several Barbie lines, such as the style and career dolls.

The change means Barbie will be able to wear more comfortable shoes, such as ballet flats, gladiator sandals, tennis shoes, and even skates. Of course, she will still have a vast array of pumps in her footwear arsenal.

Mattel is also introducing a new line of Barbie Fashonista dolls, which reflect more diversity - coming with several different "facial sculpts," skin tones, eye colors and hair styles.

Related: Mattel wants your toy ideas!

The Fashonistas are designed to "represent the world girls see around them," according to Mattel. The new flat shoes are part of the doll's "authentic street style."

barbie flats

Mattel said the dolls with flexible ankles, which launched nationwide in January, are part of the "continued evolution of the Barbie brand."

Barbie is one of the most popular dolls on the market and her fashion sense influences children around the world. But some say her unrealistic proportions contribute to an unhealthy body image among young girls.

barbie flats

Related: Move over, Barbie! Make room for 'average' Lammily doll

Mattel (MAT) came under fire earlier this year for a "talking" Barbie that many parents found creepy. The "Hello Barbie" doll used speech recognition technology to "learn" more about users and have "conversations" with them.

Related: Remember these other creepy toys?

Related: Talking Barbie is too 'creepy' for some parents

-- CNNMoney's Parija Kavilanz contributed to this report.

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