A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

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The Federal Trade Commission is at it again. Protecting us from our own stupidity as consumers who will believe anything, so long as it means we can reap benefits we haven’t earned.

After holding Reebok responsible for false advertising regarding its EasyTones toning sneakers back in September of last year, they’ve now set their sights on fellow dreams- and shoe-purveyor, Sketchers, which has its own line of toning footwear. In a settlement with the FTC, the company will have to cough up $40 million for misleading large-bootied idealists who believed their claims that shoes with names like Shape-ups, Toners, and Tone-ups would help them look more like spokespeople Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke.

Sure, the shoes will help firm up those thunder thighs. If you use them to, you know, run. Just like any other sneaker.

They might also work if you use them to walk yourself to the grocery store, where you purchase fresh produce and whole grain products.

They work even better when you use them to scoot past the entire potato chip aisle. Go on, scoot.

I understand the temptation to buy into Sketchers’ vision of a world in which a pair ugly, vaguely orthopedic-looking shoes will magically transform you into a shapely and gorgeous celebrity whose entire day is spent perfecting her appearance.

Kim Kardashian (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

While the Kims and Brookes of the planet have to spend, like, forever doing boring exercising and training and sitting for hair and makeup and eating boring stuff like tofu and steamed vegetables to look fine, you, humble shmoe, can own their asses for the low, low price of whatever these dumb shoes cost. Just put them on, hop around a little bit, and then sit back down on the couch feeling good about your investment in your healthy future and all the great booty jeans you shall buy in months to come.

Then eat some pizza, because you worked out today.

Believe me. I wish it were true more than anyone. But it’s best that the FTC goes after snake oil salesmen like these so that we can’t go around fooling ourselves into thinking we’re being any healthier than we really are.

Did anyone else watch the first HBO documentary in their “Weight of the Nation” series this past weekend? It terrified the crap out of me.

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We are an obese nation, and an increasingly diabetic one to boot. And in a vast number of regions, there’s an epidemic of ignorance when it comes to how to make healthy choices and lifestyle changes. With each generation, we get fatter and more likely to suffer from long-term problems that stem therefrom. These are costly, complex problems for any community to battle. So the last thing this country needs is a bunch of people spending their limited funds on a pair of sneakers that claim some miraculous outcome, when they could be spending that money on healthier food for their families or a Zumba video or a bicycle.

Oh, well. I guess this means I should probably reconsider buying that vibrating waist corset thing that promises to shrink my tummy in just ten minutes a day! It sounded so nice.

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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