NYTimes Suggests Science Behind Ass-Toning Shoes is…Well, Ass

Remember that whole epic fail of an ad campaign in which Reebok aired ridiculously sexist ads (see below) claiming their EasyTone shoes could “make your boobs jealous” of your legs and ass?

Well the NY Times has exposed the science behind the shoes, and pretty much dismisses these claims as bunk.

“To support the claims, the shoemakers each offer company-financed exercise studies suggesting that the shoes produce a higher level of muscle engagement, at least in a controlled research setting.
But the studies don’t show whether more engagement leads to meaningful changes in muscle tone or appearance over time. Nor is it clear whether the high level of engagement continues once the walker becomes accustomed to the shoe.”

Further, the claim that the shoes offer muscle toning is backed by a single, unpublished study involving just five people.
In fact, it looks like the most effective thing these shoes do is act as a placebo:

“The real effect may come from simple awareness that they are wearing a muscle-activating shoe, causing them to walk more briskly and with purpose.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I can do that without throwing down a hundred bucks for a pair of sneakers. Looks like Reebok needs to Re-Back their claims.
Sorry- I tried to resist the urge to pun, but the silliness of this entire ad campaign sort of begs for my ridicule. I’ve got more. How about this one: EasyTone? More like SleazyTone. Also, my boobs may not be jealous of my ass, but my ass sure is jealous of Reebok…it’s used to being the only one full of shit.
Ok, I’m done now. I apologize for the crudeness, and perhaps more importantly, the corniness. But hey- it’s Friday folks! So if you share my silly mood, add your sneaker puns to comments :-)

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • jeana

    My boobs are pretty much jealous of every other body part of mine, regardless of what shoes I wear. Anyway, I thought those shoes were too good to be true! Thanks for saving me money (even though you dashed my hopes of an easy workout).

  • Toongrrl

    Ass toning shoes, my ass!!!!

  • Blithely Zealotic

    I wrote them a letter complaining about their ad campaign and they gave me this gem:

    Thank you very much for your feedback. All consumer feedback is helpful, as it provides us with an understanding of the public perception and opinion of our products and marketing.
    The Reebok EasyTone ads were created to clearly illustrate the unique benefits of the footwear in a fun and bold way. The feedback we have received tells us that many consumers look at the ads in exactly that light, however we acknowledge that some consumers do take exception with the content of the ads.
    You can be assured that your feedback will be relayed directly to our marketing team .

    Pfft. What crap.
    Loved the puns by the way, made me guffaw. “These aren’t your dads puns! TURBOPUNS!!” -Powerthirst (more lols at this comically exaggerated masculinity)
    Rock on!

  • xocoatl

    Can someone explain why this is sexist?

  • Stephanie89

    400 PUNS

  • Tracey T

    Say what?! The science behind these is garbage and shoes marketed in a totally sexist manner that don’t even highlight athletic benefits and only highlights the supposed toning benefits through stereotypes about what women do or should want probably don’t actually do much?!!!! I don’t believe you. You’re probably such a man-hating feminist who is over-sensitive and has to challenge everything that you’d argue that the charts with a person’s outline and colorful bubbles used in diet ads doesn’t actually mean anything either! Next you’ll suggest that the people in lab coats aren’t all actual licensed medical doctors and that those that are are probably financially invested in whatever is being sold.

  • tooimpurenangel

    It was suggested in the ad that a reason to buy the shoes would be that 70% of women would be jealous of you.

  • SnrkyFeminist

    Yeah, I wrote them and complained as well, and I got the exact same response.
    I’m assuming our emails all got re-routed into the “angry feminist beast” location and they never made it past a high school kid that sits and monitors complaints.
    Not that I would every purchase anything Reebok anyway, since their faux butt-work-out shoes are being made by 8 year old Indonesian girls for a penny a day. Real nice, since Reebok’s own stated purpose is:
    “To Empower Global Youth to Fulfill their Potential
    Commitment to Corporate Responsibility is an important legacy and hallmark of the Reebok brand. For two decades, Human Rights, through the Reebok Human Rights program, was the primary focus of this effort. Reebok has expanded on what had been built and created a Global Corporate Citizenship platform with a purpose for the brand that will help underprivileged, underserved youth around the world fulfill their potential and live healthy, active lives.”
    Hmm. I wonder how sweatshops fit in there?

  • JessMess

    No, pun away!
    My aunt actually bought these for their advertised reason. She said once she got to the store, they were nearly sold out and she got one of the last pairs (she has an uncommon shoe size).
    Apparently we women want shoes/products not for fitness, but so we have other women jealous of us and so guys will enjoy looking at us. /sarcasm

  • aleks

    Apparently we women want shoes/products not for fitness, but so we have other women jealous of us and so guys will enjoy looking at us. /sarcasm
    You don’t know women who do choose clothing with attracting guys and one upping other women in mind?

  • aleks

    Because the benefit promised by the ad isn’t something Feministing thinks women should want.

  • jeana

    Don’t most people choose clothing that makes them look good (or think they do)? Not many choose clothes that are just functional. I wear very nice clothes and I admit that I do like the positive attention I get from both females and males because of how I look. I wear makeup too. I also make sure my hair looks good. There’s nothing too insidious about that, I don’t think. And nothing anti-feminist about it either.

  • PamelaVee

    You can’t tell me when the camera kept panning down to her butt that that wasn’t sexist.
    There’s nothing wrong with a nice firm bum and I’d do these commercials if I had one. There’s nothing wrong with showing an in-shape woman.
    The point is that the whole “yeah she’s talking, but women talk too much. Look at her ass” is a bit much. It’s taking women down to specific body parts and which of those parts are/aren’t pleasing to others. That’s not okay!
    Speaking of..Sarah Haskins mentions those Sketchers shoes in this one..

  • Mytrr

    Nice comment. Too bad you are wrong.
    Feministing doesn’t support this product or the ad because it makes false statements in a way that is meant to promote negativity amongst women. It’s a rather common way to advertise to women, divide them and conquer them. This ad makes promises that Reebok can’t actually back up, and does this by promoting “jealousy” amongst women. It feeds on the stereotype that women really don’t like each other, we just like to compete with each other to be the prettiest, sexiest, or the one to catch the “best” man. A lot of women buy into this advertising because all of us have been fed these ideas since youth, and it’s hard to recognize this as negative advertising.
    I promise you that if Reebok’s shoes could really deliver the promises they made, and they weren’t advertised in such a blatantly sexist way, then the feministing community would have NO problem with them. No one here is going to deny anyone else the opportunity to engage in activities meant to improve or maintain health. It’s divisive to claim otherwise or make statements like yours claiming that feministing doesn’t want women to have tone leg muscles. Feministing could really care less if any or all of us want or have toned leg muscles, it’s the advertising we object to.

  • Mollie

    This was exactly my problem with it. The commercial kept popping up in the middle of my shows on hulu! agh!!

  • aleks

    Feministing does want women to want to be hotter than other women? Or you’ve unilaterally decided that I’ve meant something else?
    And of course the get fit quick claim made in an advertisement is bogus.

  • aleks

    I’m not objecting to people buying clothing for their own reasons, I’m challenging the assertion that clueless Reebok marketers have concluded without evidence that some women are competitive in the looks department or want to be noticed by guys.

  • Gopher

    Ewww. Whats sexist about this commercial is it makes the woman look like she likes sexual harassment/debasement and objectification. Like its normalized. The camera guy is just gross!

  • Gopher

    ….and to compete for the pervy camera guy. It doesnt even suggest women have standards, personal boundaries or can tell the difference between being sexually debased/objectified and a guy simply being interested in you. I swear, I thought this whole ad was aimed at men. Reminds me of something that would come out of Mad Men.

  • Gopher

    Reminds me of something from th 50’s and instead of getting angry she just laughs and smiles. Its normalizing sexual harassment/objectification. I mean, how many girls see that commercial and think that when a guy objectifies her she should take it as a compliment? It blurs too many lines. After watching that commercial I was repulsed by the product. Who wants to be seen like that by a guy? Creepy! Does the host date guys like that? Just….gross!

  • jeana

    I believe I was agreeing with you. This whole ad is targeted to women who want to have a nice butt. Marketers know that. It’s not a secret that women are generally not pleased with their bodies. There wouldn’t be the incredible market in diet pills, diet aids, fitness equipment, etc., or in items like Spanx that promise to make us look better (although those actually work). They made a product that promised something it couldn’t deliver and used women’s desire to look good against us. If it worked, that would be one thing. But it is false advertising and they knew the product didn’t work. That is much worse (to me) than the camera man looking at her butt.

  • jeana

    The female in the ad is pretty and has a great, fit body, and was talking about her butt. Of course a guy is going to look. If someone told me that their shoes made their butt toned, I’d look too. A few times.
    Also, not everyone’s reaction to being looked at (even at their butt) is anger. Nor should it be. If you can handle a situation by using humor like she did, I think that’s preferable to rage and name calling. If the guy kept it up, I’d understand the irritation. Or if she was talking about her hair and he kept looking at her butt. But you can’t keep talking about how great your butt looks and then get angry at people who look at it.

  • Gopher

    Except unlike men, women are objectified on a constant basis and regard for their personal space is often dismissed so the guy can build himself off of objectifying her. Its not guys who have to deal with rape, common street harassment and nasty guys at bars. Its not guys who have to deal with the opposite genders entitlement to their body on a constant basis. And the commercial wasnt even about the shoes. It just came off sleazy, degrading and pervy. After watching that commercial I feel I need to take a shower….and not in the good way!

  • jeana

    In general I agree with you totally. But in this particular ad, it didn’t seem to me that the female actually minded being looked at (it was scripted, I know). And even if she liked being looked at and invited the guy to look at her in a subtle way, that in no way means that he has free reign to do anything else he wants to her or even to ogle her in the future. That’s the problem, I think, and what makes it difficult for females. You give an inch, and they take a yard and then blame you because once you let them look/joke/date/have sex, etc. with you. Therefore, you lose all future rights to be offended or feel demeaned or be assaulted. (Except that you don’t. But they pretend they don’t understand that.)