Over the past week or so, a popular clothing retailer has come under fire because of a freebie it sent out with some online orders, and despite the recent apology and explanation, the whole ordeal remains exceedingly cringe-worthy. Forever 21 responded to drama over Atkins Bars being sent to some shoppers via an interview with BuzzFeed News. Diet bars? Included in clothing orders? I have no words to express how inappropriate this entire situation is — but people on social media had several words to say. Unsurprisingly, a slew of Forever 21 shoppers began expressing their similar upset on Twitter last week, asking the brand WTF happened with these bars being sent out.
As many users pointed out, the inclusion of the bars, which are produced by Atkins, a company many associate with weight loss-related products, could cause customers to reflect on their body image in a negative way. Not only that, but it may result in some customers believing weight loss is something everyone should be focused on, which it's most definitely not. To push an Atkins bar on a largely young, woman-identifying customer base is inconceivable to me. As exemplified by the storm of tweets the action resulted in, a lot of customers feel the same way.
"Forever 21 is sending diet bars with clothes you order and that’s so insensitive holy crap like.... how about we don’t make someone negatively reflect on their body image when trying to just order some new outfits ? ????" wrote one user.
"A not so gentle reminder that fat babes are #notyourbefore. We don’t have to diet to be worthy of living a full and happy life. So kindly f*ck off, forever 21," wrote another.
A slew of other Twitter users vocalized their disapproval, including imagery of the Atkins bars within their tweets and asking what the intended message of the freebie was:
On July 23, BuzzFeed News published an article with a formal response from Forever 21, which read:
From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders. 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.
Some users on Twitter had initially thought that the Atkins bars were only being sent with orders that were shopped from the plus-size section of the site, so the statement did help clarify that notion. However, the statement, unfortunately, still didn't directly address how the bars were ever OK'ed to be included in any order in the first place. For these types of fiascos to still be happening in 2019 is truly unreal — let's hope Forever 21 takes this as a learning experience and agrees to make more informed business partnerships in the future.