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Forever 21 Responds to Outrage After Including Atkins Diet Bars With Customer Orders

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Regardless of its intention. Forever 21 sparked outrage from advocates online after many people discovered an Atkins diet bar with their clothing order.

According to BuzzFeed News, Ganiella Garcia and other Forever 21 shoppers discovered the Atkins diet bar sample in with their clothing order on Tuesday. Garcia and other customers said the addition of the diet bar felt like body-shaming.

“I opened the bag and took the clothes out. Everything was fine. And then when I was trying things on, at the bottom there was a card and there was an Atkins bar in a little bag,” Garcia told BuzzFeed News. “It was very insulting, and honestly I like shopping at Forever 21 — but I don’t feel comfortable buying clothes from a company that thinks I shouldn’t be the size that I am.”

On social media, other shoppers and advocates were stunned to discover the diet bar with their orders, which many called a fatphobic and body-shaming move on the part of Forever 21, as well as irresponsible for those who struggle with disordered eating.

While initially, it seemed only those who ordered from Forever 21’s plus-size section received the diet bar, others chimed in to say they ordered other-sized clothing and also received the product. In a statement sent to The Mighty via email, Forever 21 confirmed the samples were sent to customers across the board and have since been removed. The company said:

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.

The suggestion any customer needed a diet bar didn’t sit well with advocates who took Forever 21 to task. Twitter user Jude Valentin pointed out that even when a company doesn’t intend harm with its actions — like sending a diet bar in with women’s clothing — the result can still hurt many people who face stigma because they don’t fit a certain body size ideal, experience challenges with their weight or struggle with disordered eating.

“a reminder about impact vs intent (re: forever 21 situation),” Valentin wrote on Twitter. She continued:

their INTENTION was to send these bars out because they got samples, the IMPACT is still fatphobic and harmful, and for them to have an oversight still makes them responsible bc it WAS THEIR ACTION that caused harm.

when you live in a fatphobic society, microagressions occur because of a lack of care and straight up ignorance and disregard for fat bodies. Forever 21 is still responsible, even if they didn’t INTEND to harm anyone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Header image via Twitter

Originally published: July 24, 2019
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