Monday, March 31, 2014


The shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, aka the Foot-o-scope was an X-ray fluoroscope machine used to determine shoe fit from the 1920s until the 1970s. The devices were made of metal and covered in wood and would have an opening where a child would place their feet while standing in shoes that they were trying on and their parent and the sales person would look through viewing ports at an x-ray view of the feet. They were able to observe the child's toes being wiggled to show how much room for the toes there was inside the shoe. The bones of the feet were clearly visible, as was the outline of the shoe, including the stitching around the edges. Several sales pitches were used depending on the market during the period they were in shoe stores, the most famous one was that it would allow for the better fitting of shoes and it made shoe shopping fun for kids. At the time of the great depression, one pitch was that these devices ensured the best possible fit, which in turn would make shoes last longer. These devices couldn’t have really worked because the fit of a shoe not only depends on the bones but the flesh surrounding them which would not be easily made out on an x-ray. What these devices were really doing was exposing children to ionizing radiation, which they are twice more susceptible to than adults. While there isn’t much data on those affected by these machines, it can be said that the salesmen who had chronic exposure to these radiation sources could have been negatively impacted. The shoe-fitting fluoroscope was just another example of radiation quackery which probably did more harm than good.

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