Forever 21 is taking heat after it angered customers with an arguably tone-deaf free giveaway campaign.
Online customers from across the U.S. took to Twitter to say they felt body-shamed when their orders of plus-sized swimsuits and clothing arrived in the mail with free snack bars from the famous diet brand Atkins.
Several customers shared angry posts and photos of their opened packages with Atkins’ lemon bars inside. One angry Twitter user, who described herself as a size 18, wrote “what are you trying to tell me Forever 21, I’m FAT, LOSE WEIGHT?”
Another person, who ordered a plus-size swimsuit, tweeted that Forever 21’s gesture showed how the company were “jerks,” adding “an Adkins diet bar in my order is NOT COOL.”
But the free Atkins bars seem to have been sent to customers who ordered clothing in a range of sizes. One user wrote “I just bought a bunch of (extra small and small) clothes and got one too. I don't think it's anything personal.”
Other people online echoed customers’ outrage, including magazine editor Samantha Puc who wrote that Forever 21’s gesture was inappropriate and sent a “wildly dangerous message to ALL of its customers.”
Puc, who runs “Fatventure Mag” an online publication which says it focuses on “active lifestyles beyond the boundaries of weight-loss culture,” said the gesture could “trigger people of all sizes who have (eating disorders).
Advertisements for the lemon bar, which is a part of Atkins’ snack collection, is described as a way to “stick with your low carb diet.” The two main slogans on Atkins’ website read “lose weight” and “live low carb.”
The Atkins diet and its weight-loss plan peaked in popularity around 2003.
Forever 21 says move was 'oversight'
CTVNews.ca reached out to Forever 21 for comment. In a statement provided to several news media outlets, the company admitted the gesture was a mistake.
“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,” it said.
The company explained that “from time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders.”
Forever 21 stressed it wasn't trying to body shame or send a message to people ordering plus-size clothing as the free Atkins bars were “included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories for a limited time.”
The clothing giant said the bars have since been removed. But it’s unclear if this was because of the backlash or because the campaign had run its course.