Despite the progress we’ve seen as a result of the body positive movement, diet culture is running rampant. And in a recent flub, clothing retailer Forever 21 took things too far. Customers began reporting that within their online orders from Forever 21, the brand included Atkins diet bars — most noticeably, in packages with plus-sized clothing. Needless to say, people are not happy with the unsolicited weight loss prod.
A slew of furious customers have posted about their experiences on Twitter, along with images of the diet bars in their packages. “I went from a size 24 to 18, still a plus size girl, so I ordered jeans from @Forever21,” one customer wrote. “Opened the package, when I looked inside I see this Atkins bar. What are you trying to Tell me Forever 21, I’m FAT, LOSE WEIGHT? do you give these to NON-PLUS SIZE WOMEN as well?”
I went from a size 24 to 18, still a plus size girl, so I ordered jeans from @Forever21 Opened the package, when I looked inside I see this Atkins bar. What are you trying to Tell me Forever 21, I’m FAT, LOSE WEIGHT? do you give these to NON-PLUS SIZE WOMEN as well? pic.twitter.com/ds8kUTs7T7
Another Twitter user, Jesse Sae Lao Negron, shared a photo of her mother’s plus-sized Forever 21 order, which included the diet bars. Negron told Glamour that her mom was offended by the sample. “My mother explained to me, ‘regardless of their intent, Forever 21’s marketing fat-shamed the customers, the clients, me.’ And you know it’s just one example you see on a daily basis of campaigns promoting dieting and being thin,” Negron said…..
However, the Forever 21 insists that the whole thing was an honest mistake. “From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders,” the retailer said in a statement. “The freebie items in question were included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories, for a limited time and have since been removed. This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused to our customers, as this was not our intention in any way.”
While it appears the Atkins bars were included in every order, it’s still not a great message to be sending customers when buying clothes, regardless of their size.. Research has shown that shopping for clothing represents an important part of women’s appearance management, so this type of marketing is dangerous and can lead to body image issues. Here’s to hoping the fast fashion retailer has learned a lesson from the outrage over this insulting mistake.