Mark Eden bust developer

The Mark Eden bust developer was widely advertised in women's magazines of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Mark Eden bust developer was a device and regimen sold by the Mark Eden company of San Francisco, California, that promised to enlarge a woman's breasts. Jack Feather, a California based figure salon entrepreneur, was the promoter of the device.[1] The product was widely marketed in women's magazines during the 1960s and 1970s, making claims such as, "For thousands, Mark Eden has transformed flat bustlines into firm, shapely fullness."

Contents

The product

The product consisted of a regimen of exercises using a clamshell-like device with a spring to provide resistance.[2][3] The device and the regimen were never illustrated or described in the advertisements, which instead usually contained pictures of women showing their breasts.[4] To the extent that the product had any effects at all, it worked by enlarging the pectoral muscles and latissimus dorsi, which could increase the circumference of the exerciser's bustline without actually enlarging breasts.[5] Spokeswomen for the product included June Wilkinson, the Playboy centerfold, who appeared in one edition of the product's documentation.[6]

Mail fraud

Starting in 1965[7], the United States Postal Service repeatedly attempted to shut the Mark Eden business down, claiming that its advertising was false and misleading. The Postal Service first ruled that the claims made for the Mark Eden bust developer in its advertising constituted mail fraud in 1966, ruling that the claims made in the original Mark Eden advertising "far exceed puffing", and that the advertisements contained "material misrepresentations", given that "(t)here is substantial evidence that the representations as set out in the attached copy of the advertisement involved in this case are false;" and "(t)hey are the kind of representations that would invite women to buy the device."[8]

Protracted litigation between the Mark Eden business and the Postal Service was the result, leading to a consent decree and a modification of the language of the advertisements, which the Postal Service later claimed had been violated.[9] The Mark Eden corporation then brought suit against the Postal Service, and won an injunction forbidding the Postmaster from impounding the device and funds received from its sale; this decision was affirmed on appeal in 1970.[10]

The Mark Eden bust developer was one of several body and exercise products marketed by Feather, who also sold various other slimming and body modification products such as "Slim-Jeans", an "Astro-Trimmer", a "Sauna Belt", and in the 1980s, the Cambridge Diet. Finally, in 1981, Feather was indicted on 11 counts of mail fraud, and the Mark Eden bust developer disappeared from the market. Feather was made to pay a $1.1 million fine.[11][12]

Impact

Screenwriter Nora Ephron wrote of her experiences with the Mark Eden bust developer in an essay, "A Few Words about Breasts", originally published in Esquire in 1972; the essay appears in her collection Crazy Salad.[13] Lenny Bruce incorporated the device into his comedy routine; a recorded performance is included in the retrospective collection Let the Buyer Beware.[14] The Mark Eden advertisements have been cited as examples of misleading language in advertisements by educators who seek to improve critical thinking skills.[15]

References

  1. ^ Jane Brody, "Personal Health" (byline Nov. 16, 1983, accessed Feb. 23, 2009), New York Times.
  2. ^ Pop Culture Matters
  3. ^ Departmental Decision, USPS, In the Matter of the Complaint Against MARK EDEN at San Francisco, California P.O.D. Docket No. 2/204
  4. ^ See illustration.
  5. ^ "You must, you must, work to support bust", Oakland Tribune, Aug. 7, 2005, accessed May 1, 2008. See also, In the Matter of the Complaint Against ISO-TENSOR PLAN, United States Postal Service, Docket No. 3/30.
  6. ^ Pop Culture Matters
  7. ^ Jack Friedman, "The Cambridge Obsession", in New York Magazine, Dec. 20, 1982, p. 47
  8. ^ Departmental Decision, USPS, In the Matter of the Complaint Against MARK EDEN at San Francisco, California P.O.D. Docket No. 2/204
  9. ^ United States Postal Service: In the matter of the charges that MARK EDEN at San Francisco, California, is engaged in conducting a scheme for obtaining money through the mails in violation of the Affidavit of Discontinuance executed by the Respondent on January 30, 1967. P.O.D. Docket No. 2/204
  10. ^ Mark Eden v. Lee, 433 F.2d 1077 (9th Cir., 1970)
  11. ^ Laura Fraser, Ten Pounds in Ten Days: A Sampler of Diet Fads and Abuse, (2002), accessed May 1, 2008.
  12. ^ Joseph F. Mullen, Strength Training for Women Only, p. 29. (iUniverse, 2003; ISBN 059528017X)
  13. ^ Nora Ephron, "A Few Words about Breasts", in Crazy Salad (Modern Library, 2000: ISBN 0-679-64035-5)
  14. ^ Lenny Bruce, "Toilets/Flashers/Mark Eden Bust Developer", in Let the Buyer Beware, disc 5, track 15 (Shout! Factory, 2004, sound recording)
  15. ^ D. G. Kehl, "How to Read an Ad: Learning to Read between the Lies", in The English Journal, Vol. 72, No. 6 (Oct., 1983), pp. 32-38.

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