Clothing store chain Forever 21 is apologizing to their customers and removing a free sample of a popular nutrition bar from online orders after it caused outrage, with many customers accusing the store of body shaming. The clothing giant included a free sample of a variety of Atkins nutrition bars with recent online orders causing many customers to feel like the store is sending an unhealthy message about body image and health and nutrition by doing so.
The nutrition bars were sent out with all orders, including plus-size orders, causing many people to feel personally attacked about their body shape.
Forever 21 really put a fucking diet bar in with my plus size clothing order...I fucking can’t. 😡— ✨💖Kat Ravioli💖✨ (@PinkMaggitKat) July 22, 2019
Yeah uh I will not be shopping at Forever 21. This is ridiculous. You know some ad person thought this was a fantastic ~targeted campaign. Gross. Gross gross gross. (Also Atkins bars are disgusting so it's like INSULT TO INJURY) https://t.co/mQ7niVnMhR— kaye toal (@ohkayewhatever) July 23, 2019
In a statement about the nutrition bar sample being sent out with online shipments, Forever 21 has stated they are removing the samples from future shipments.
“From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders,” the company said. “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,” Forever 21 added, as per PEOPLE.
However, some people feel the damage may have already been done. One Twitter user commented that sending out the bars, "sends a wildly dangerous message to ALL of its customers. Not only is it fatshaming, it could also trigger people of all sizes who have EDs. This is as dangerous as it is inappropriate." Another user commented on the shipment stating, "not only is this incredibly fatphobic, but sending diet bars unsolicited is down right harmful to the customers & could negatively impact anyone with a ED. This is beyond disgusting. Stop forcing diet culture down peoples throats."
Atkins released their own statement to PEOPLE about their nutrition bars. "Today’s Atkins is focused on a lifestyle nutritional approach where everyone can benefit from overall health and wellbeing," they said. "Our brand evolution is reflected in the current marketing efforts to highlight the health benefits of eating a low carb/low sugar Atkins lifestyle, with a portfolio of nutritious and delicious snacks for everyone. The intention of sampling Atkins products is to share snacks that taste great with optimal nutritional benefit."
Although the new bars may be marketed more as nutrition bars than a "diet" bar, most people are aware of the Atkins brand as a low carb, high protein diet to encourage weight loss. While some customers appreciated the free bar with their orders, others felt that it was better to stay away from anything that could be associated with dieting and body shaming. "Sending people diet bars, shakes, teas, etc. with clothes they bought can send a negative message about body image," wrote one customer.