Over the past few years, the idea of body positivity has gained momentum, and there has been some real progress toward inclusion as a result. But for every company that expands its size offerings, there’s another that tacitly endorses the idea that only thin bodies are valid. Recently, Forever 21 customers took to Twitter in anger after they received Atkins diet bars in their orders.
Several Twitter users have shared pictures of single Atkins diet bars nestled among their online purchases. On its website, Atkins markets the products as meal replacement bars and touts them as part of a low-carb diet. And it was because of this that many customers—especially those who ordered plus-size clothing—found the inclusion offensive. Several also wondered if Forever 21 had put the bars in every order, or if it was a way of targeting those who ordered larger sizes.
One woman tagged the brand in a protected tweet to ask, “do you include weightloss Atkins bars in all your shipments or just in the ones for ladies over 1X?”
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— MissGG🏳️🌈 (@MissGirlGames) July 19, 2019
Others were similarly outraged by the diet bars.
Forever 21 largely markets to tweens and teens, they shouldn't partner with a diet company. Period.— never again is now (@LtlMissFeminist) July 23, 2019
bought a swimsuit online from forever 21 and they sent me an atkins bar along with it lmaoo thank u for reminding me that i don't have a beach ready bod— Cailee (@caileeargudo) July 23, 2019
To be clear, Forever 21 didn’t only include the bars in plus-size orders.
On Twitter, several users who ordered a size S or XS shared that they had received the bars, too.
i just bought a bunch of xs/s clothes and got one too, i don't think its anything personal..— kec 🦋 (@stxrkid) July 23, 2019
They’re sending them with orders of all sizes— little bad egg (@nosebleed_queen) July 23, 2019
In a statement to CNN Business, the company said that it had indeed sent the free samples with all orders. Still, it called the inclusion of the products “an oversight” and promised to remove them.
Okay, so Forever 21 wasn’t intentionally targeting plus-size consumers. But some users pointed out that diet culture can result in poor mental health and body image for all people. And without diet culture, diet bars wouldn’t exist.
Even if it is in all shipments regardless of the items, it’s still sending an awful message to a lot of people - even if it doesn’t bother you personally.— McKenna Buck🦌 (@mckennabuck) July 23, 2019
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 ? ????— taylor nicole dean (@taylorndean) July 23, 2019
Regardless of your size, the fact that a company would send diet bars to its clients, suggesting that regardless of their weight, they should drop more pounds, is offensive and misogynistic...— divaD (@ItsdivaD) July 24, 2019
Jesus Christ, that's awful.— ☁Emmy Lou☁ (@EmmyLouise__) July 23, 2019
As someone who is battling anorexia, things like that can easily trigger a relapse.
We’re glad that Forever 21 is listening to its consumers, and hopefully this doesn’t happen again.