Online ordering is one of the coolest byproducts of all the technology we have access to nowadays. One of the best advantages to being able to order online is the convenience, especially when it comes to clothes shopping.
If you know your size, ordering clothing online from your favorite store is a breeze, & a welcome arrival.
Unless, of course, said clothing store makes a bizarre marketing choice that results in your order being far less appealing- in fact, downright offensive.
Clothing retailer Forever 21 is coming under fire for including a free diet snack bar along with online clothing orders, including plus-sized items.
Who doesn’t love a free sample, right? Part of my motivation for my Costco membership is the abundance of delicious free samples offered throughout the store as you shop.
But in reality, free samples are provided to customers as a marketing tool. Or, in the case of Forever 21’s new campaign’s free diet bar offerings, they can be perceived as a blunt judgement of anyone wearing plus-sized clothing.
Here’s what went down: customers who ordered clothing from Forever 21’s website opened their packages to find a lemon-flavored Atkins snack bar included- a bar which clearly indicates on it’s wrapper that it contains merely three grams of carbs:
I’d like to think that any woman finding a diet snack bar in their order might not find that particularly appealing, regardless of clothing size.
But for a woman ordering plus-sized clothing, it appears to be sending a clearly negative message about their size.
And the women on Twitter aren’t having it.
— jesse (@jessemarisaelao) July 19, 2019
Buying new clothing should be fun. It’s typically exciting to open an awaited package, and to try on your new items. But opening your box and see a weight-loss bar sitting prominently on top of your new clothing is anything but fun.
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
The question that Twitter user @MissGirlGames raises is a valid one; were the Atkins bar included with every online order, or just for plus-sized customers?
So I also received the #atkins bar in my @Forever21 order.. I’ve never ordered online from them and didn’t know if they regularly sent out free samples (& if the implications of this one were overlooked or what) #forever21 pic.twitter.com/lgtiIBh3nM
— Julia Alford (@alford_julia) July 23, 2019
According to Forever 21, the samples were distributed “randomly” among recent orders. It’s quite possible that non plus-sized customers also received the Atkins bars, but it’s murky on just how random the selection was.
Whether Forever 21 solely targeted plus-sized customers or really did distribute the Atkins bars randomly, the point remains that either strategy has the potential to invoke a serious body-image issue for ANY woman.
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
Feeling self-conscious and/or insecure about one’s body is an issue that can affect women of all sizes. It’s ludicrous for a company that specializes in WOMEN’S clothing to not realize that offering such a dubious free sample would be misinterpreted by the majority -if not all customers- who received it unexpectedly.
Once critics took to social media to slam the ill-conceived offering, Forever 21 issued a statement to Jezebel to explain that the bar was actually a free sample offered to all customers that recently made online purchases:
From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders.
“Surprise!” Here’s a nice fat-shaming nugget to snack on while you try your jeans on, compliments of Forever 21 (and Atkins, of course).
Third party advertising is certainly not uncommon. But the choice to include a “snack” (read “DIET”) bar from a company known for weight loss/management such as Atkins certainly makes one wonder who the brainiac was behind this questionable marketing decision.
Following the uproar on social media, Forever 21 addressed the public protest via Jezebel:
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.
So an apology have been issued, and any remaining samples have since been pulled. While that’s all well and good, the point remains that the last thing any customer needs with their online clothing order is a bar of self-doubt and/or body-shaming.
While free samples are generally pretty cool, including an Atkins bar with any woman’s clothing order is a boiling cauldron of insensitivity.