Barbie feet: Paula Bennett reveals toll high heels took on her health amid TikTok 'Barbie Foot Challenge'

As a new internet craze inspired by Barbie's impeccably arched feet takes off on TikTok, a former MP has revealed the staggering impacts high heels have had on her health.

The viral #BarbieFeet challenge is inspired by a scene in the blockbuster Barbie movie in which Margot Robbie, who portrays the titular Barbie, slips out of her fluffy pink heels to reveal her arched soles - à la the actual dolls - before showcasing her shoeless tippy-toed walk. 

Coined the #BarbieFootChallenge, content creators are now trying their hand (or should that be foot?) at strutting their stuff while imitating the doll's iconic instep, with varying degrees of success. According to the New York Post, searches for 'Barbie Foot Challenge' increased 2950 percent in a week following the release of the movie.

Discussing the new challenge on AM on Wednesday, host Ryan Bridge pointed out that several health problems have been linked to the 'Barbie Feet' associated with long-term wear of high-heeled shoes, including an increased risk of ligament injuries, lower back strain and spine issues. 

He also charitably demonstrated the "ankle instability" that can come with wearing high heels, showing off a pair of nude stiletto pumps with his navy socks and trousers. 

Speaking on AM's panel, former National MP Paula Bennett revealed she herself has suffered ongoing health issues as a result of wearing heels.

"I'm of a generation where I used to wear heels pretty much every day and could wear them all day and all night. Now I'm getting lazy - I put some on for you today but I must admit, I wear sneakers now about five days a week," she said.

"There's no doubt about it, it shortened my ligaments - so [wearing] flats could almost hurt because my foot was used to being [raised]. I know, not good. I had back problems, without a doubt."

Despite the clearly painful conditions associated with her shoes of choice, Bennett hesitated when asked by Bridge if she would choose flats over heels "from day dot" if she had her time again.

"That's a big call. The shoes are so much more comfortable in general these days - New Zealand designers who make more comfortable heels. I don't know," she wavered, before noting: "When you're bigger... the one thing that always does fit you is your shoes."

The surprising change of tack prompted bellows of laughter from the hosts, with Bennett continuing: "When you're bouncing all over the place, at least I can still rock a pair of shoes!"

"And maybe a cap, if you're lucky," Bridge quipped.

Watch the video above.