A California woman is suing New Balance shoes for allegedly overstating the benefits of their butt-toning shoes (here). The lawsuit seeks in excess of 5 million dollars in “damages.” Ahem.
I will share a semi-shameful secret: 2 years ago, I purchased a pair of MBT sneakers — an odd, expensive sneaker with an oversized, unbalanced sole that promised to revolutionize my butt, thighs, and calves as well as burn more calories than “regular” sneakers. The sneakers came with a DVD (!) that explained MBT’s inspiration: to recreate the uneven terrain of our primitive, barefoot ancestors. MBT takes their inspiration from the Masai people, an East African ethnic group who, as the DVD explains, “wear no shoes, and have no cellulite.” Maybe this is because they subsist chiefly on cattle meat, milk, and blood, but maybe it’s because they go through life walking as if they had unbalanced, heavy sneakers laced to their feet. Ha, who knows.
I wore the MBT sneakers faithfully on walks. Indeed, they were quite a conversation starter on the walking path, and more than a few women approached me to inquire about the effectiveness of the sneakers. For once in my life, I was a maven, on the cutting edge of walking technology, and I cautiously praised the shoes, admitting that it made walking more difficult and hence must have some fitness value, right?Inwardly, I regretted my expensive investment — I climb mountains in my spare time, so any lack of tone to my hindquarters is probably impervious to physical activity — and sold the MBTs for a nice price on eBay to a man in Florida who wanted them as a present for his girlfriend (he is either very sweet, or a huge dickhead).
And now, the world is full of toning shoes, as well as consumers who are discovering what I discovered: that no mere shoe can conquer cellulite. And maybe the shoe companies have used misleading claims to coax a desperate demographic of flabby-assed women with disposable income to purchase an expensive pair of magical sneakers that will give them buns of steel, but really, does this warrant monetary damages? Can’t you just stash the sneakers along with all the other empty-promise fitness gear you have purchased and chalk it up to a market-economy life lesson?