Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Shapes flesh and cartilage--quickly, safely and painlessly..."


When it comes to the human body and our paranoid insecurities about body image, canny entrepreneurs will step in to sell us what we want to change our bodies and our lives.

Whether the products they sell us actually work, well, that's something else.

I've always felt that good sense and skepticism go out the window when the opportunity to change something we don't like comes in the door. These are products that probably didn't do any harm--except maybe the Les-Wate pills, what was in them, anyway?--but didn't do any good, either.

Want to be slim, use Les-Wate. You don't have to change your eating habits at all and you'll be skinny! Wow. Irresistible. I'll send my buck for a two-week supply, then bring on the Krispy Kremes.

Want to get rid of that enormous Jimmy Durante schnoz sticking out of your face? Anita will do it for you, shaping the bone and cartilage…painlessly! While you sleep, yet.

Or if you're deaf…tired of saying, "Would you repeat that?" "Sorry, I didn't catch that?" or "'Scuse me, did you say kiss my ass?" then you can wear this little handy device that uses tiny megaphones (!!!) so you can finally hear what your relatives and coworkers are saying behind your back.

Variations of these useless products still exist today, somewhere, even products that are updated for the modern self-conscious amongst us.

I bit (no pun intended) for the tooth whitening products sold over the counter. My son and his wife had their teeth whitened by a dentist in 2003 and the process worked so well that they both still have brilliant pearly-whites that gleam when they smile. I am embarrassed about teeth stained by over 30 years of drinking coffee. I fell for the line about an over-the-counter product making my teeth 7 shades whiter in just 7 days. At the end of 7 days, well, I asked for my money back and got it. I'm sure the companies selling these sorts of products don't worry much about that, since most people don't ask for money back. They might throw away the product and not use it again, like me they might feel silly for spending the money in the first place, but a company will count on most consumers not asking for a refund.

The magazines I got the old ads from are Amazing Stories from 1928 and 1929. It seems appropriate, since the claims the products make are just that, science fiction.

Ciao for now, the sadder but wiser and no whiter-toothed, El Postino

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