Great Invention Idea? Shaming Diet Dolls

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and that means that once again you are confronted with a holiday that is likely to put a little extra meat on your bones. The irony of all this is that that extra meat on your bones often greatly decreases your chances of being someone's Valentine! So, what will you do if you've resolved not to eat any chocolates this coming Thursday? How about looking to the United States Patent Office for a couple of incentives to help you with your resolve?

United States patent 5033985 was issued in 1991 to Gregory H. Nahas for Diet Aid Dolls. It seems Nahas is from that pre-politically correct era that emphasized the value of shame in helping people do things like perform well in school, or reach personal goals like weight loss. That's right, these dolls are meant to shame you into sticking with your diet.

Piggy You Diet DollPiggy You Diet Doll

First the good news: the dolls are available in both male and female versions. This simple fact appeals to this blogger who is often struck (pissed off really) by the fact that diet aids are too often marketed to women, as if we are the only ones who need to worry about looking and feeling our bests. I guess that's our own fault, since so many of us are so willing to accept the bare minimum in grooming (teeth brushing, a shower, the occasional haircut) when it comes to our men. That is, they don't try harder because we don't make them try harder. But I digress....

The dolls, which are attached to a refrigerator by magnetic strips on the backside, are slim and shapely with facial features resembling those of a pig! The dolls are perched on a box that reads, "When Overeating Press My Nose Watch My Thighs How Big They Grow [!]" Can you believe it? With every squeeze of piggy's snout the magnets thighs get bigger!

Piggy You Side ViewPiggy You Side View

A few obvious drawbacks of the doll are:
1) Sure, the doll is great if you tend to gain weight in your thighs and buttocks, but what if you gain weight in your stomach?
2) Overeating for people with a weight issue is sometimes subjective, so how can the person struggling with their weight be trusted to objectively measure their food? I mean if they could do that they probably wouldn't have a weight problem in the first place.
3) While the doll may start out with the figure you aspire to, she's still pretty ugly. Perhaps, the doll's face is meant to remind the dieter that no matter how successful they are they are still a pig at heart and must therefore always be on the alert for hidden calories. Basically, you've purchased a mean and demoralizing refrigerator magnet!
4) Finally, it's too easy to rip that doll off the fridge and toss her in the garbage the minute you tire of her condescending attitude!

With these drawbacks in mind let's look at another patent in the same vein, United States patent 5067924.

This patent is much more like it. It is traditional in the worst kind of way. The patent, issued in 1991 (which seems to have been a big year for diet aids) to Beverly L. Munter - because we women are often our own worst enemies promoting and endorsing the stereotypes that objectify us the most - is for a Doll Simulating Weight Loss/Gain. Naturally, this doll is female with no male counterpart. And there is no ugly face to contend with because Munter has gone the extra mile of simply decapitating the doll. After all, all a head does is house that pesky brain, which you won't need if you've got a hot, slim, body, right?

Headless, Hot Bod DieterHeadless, Hot Bod Dieter

Anyway, unlike patent 5033985 the doll is less a motivator than it is a partner in crime. That's because the doll will simulate weight loss and weight gain according to simultaneous weight loss and weight gain of the doll's owner. And how exactly is this feat accomplished? The doll is wrapped in layers of "skin" (not unlike her owner at the start of the diet) made of stretchable synthetic material, such as vinyl, [which] are added or removed from the doll each time the doll's owner gains or loses one weight increment (to be pre-determined by the doll's owner), respectively.

The "nice" thing about this patent is that it gives the dieter a co-conspirator, while the increments make it easy for the dieter to see how far they can push the diet envelope. For instance: how bad will I really look with an additional five pounds around my middle? Not too bad. Pass me another Oreo!

This Thursday why not toss out the diet incentives, stuff yourself with chocolate hearts and truffles and turn to United States patent 5163447, the musical condom, for some assistance in burning all those extra calories? After all, isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about: reaffirming your love and commitment to each other? So eat up then heat up. Your figure, and your love life, will be better off for it.

Elizabeth Valeri
Patents Writer

Feb 18, 2008
by G (not verified)

Shaming Diet Dolls

These dolls are positively mean-spirited. I hope they never saw or will see the light of day. My own prejudices notwithstanding, you can't shame people into losing weight, stop drinking, or anything else for that matter.