With their online orders, Forever 21 shoppers are receiving lemon-flavored Atkins bars as a special promotion, eliciting outrage among customers and non-customers alike. Earlier this week, after one unhappy shopper tweeted about discovering a low-carb bar in her plus-sized order, numerous Twitter users shared similar photos and complaints.
This isn’t the first time Forever 21, a fast-fashion retailer marketed toward young women, has taken heat for an oversight. At the end of last year, the company was under fire for advertising a Black Panther-themed sweater using a white model, which many criticized as cultural appropriation. And to the chagrin of just about everyone, in 2016, the company released a rape-suggestive shirt.
This week’s diet bar controversy is potentially problematic for a number of reasons. Sending diet bars to customers who didn’t explicitly order them might trigger people with disordered eating habits; additionally, for the customers who ordered plus-size clothing, it could perpetuate a fatphobic ideology and the idea that those who wear such clothing need to lose weight.
One furious Twitter user called out the fast-fashion retailer’s promotion: “Not only is it fatshaming, it could also trigger people of all sizes who have EDs,” she tweeted. Another user called Forever 21’s actions “insensitive and harmful,” adding that “people of all shapes and sizes have self-esteem issues and the potential for an eating disorder.”
In response to Allure‘s request for comment, a representative from Forever 21 sent the following official statement:
“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.”
While the brand says the diet bars were included in all orders, and not just plus-size orders, the oversight is still harmful to some. When something is taken as fat-shaming, it is never a fun or acceptable “surprise.”
This article was originally published via Allure