Just a friendly reminder that bathroom scales have nothing to do with health

binge eating disorderAnd everything to do with marketing. I’ve rounded up a few old ads for bathroom scales, and they are doozies.

From the late 19th century and into the Depression era, scale manufacturers successfully parlayed their machinery into a smaller moneymaker for humans: a novelty item where people could pay a penny to find out their weight at department stores, on street corners, in movie theaters. What could be more fun?!?

By the post-war years in the late 1940s, scale technology got smaller, household incomes got higher, and ad men got to work convincing people to weigh themselves daily or else you would get fat fat fat.

Here are the results of a little non-scientific survey of old Life magazines:

1950: “Guard her health and protect her slim figure…to warn her, the instant pounds come or go.” YAY!
1952: “Makes weight-watching simple and dieting fun!” YAY!
binge eating help
1953: “Figure control begins with an accurate bathroom scale.” YAY!
binge eating help
1954: “Let mom watch her figure…dad check his waistline…small fry keep track of their weight.” EATING DISORDERS FOR EVERYBODY! YAY!

p.s. By 1955, I couldn’t find any more ads that spell out why you must get a scale and weigh yourself daily. I guess by then you just knew: dieting is your job. Well done, ad men.

p.p.s. In 1959, Dr. Albert Stunkard first described the behaviors that would later become known as binge eating disorder. Coincidence?

all ads from Life magazine via Google Books

main image via

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s