Forever 21 Faces Backlash After Including Diet Bars With Customers’ Online Orders

Let’s take a trip into our imaginations.

Let’s say you’re the head honcho of a major clothing retailer, one whose main demographics are young women and plus-size women, two groups positively buffeted on all sides by toxic messaging about their weight.

Now let’s say that you’re searching for a merch tie-in to add to all your customers’ packages as a fun surprise. And let’s also stipulate that you’re NOT an abject idiot.

Would you ever consider doing something like, say, this‽‽

Or would DIET BARS ON TOP OF A PILE OF PLUS-SIZE CLOTHES be the kind of pitch that’d have you like:

“Ok first of all, you’re extremely fired go home immediately.”?

If you’re a person of the most basic common sense, probably the latter, but if you’re the folks over at Forever 21, well, suffice to say you’d step in it and think you were just giving your customers a cool free gift.

It’s seems too stupid to be real, but that’s precisely what Forever 21 has been doing, and customers have been sharing photos to Twitter to prove it.

At first it seemed like Forever 21 was only sending the bars to plus-size orders, but as the company confirmed in a statement to Jezebel, it’s been including the free *checks notes* “gift” in all online orders:

“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…”

So, you know, at least it was propping up the Make Women Hate Their Bodies Industrial Complex equally and equitably.

So there’s that!

But seriously, let’s call it like it is: this is wildly stupid, aside from insensitive. Hiding a package of diet bars in a person’s things is the kind of ish kids do in middle school.

When I was in 7th grade the mean girls broke into this overweight girl’s locker and filled it with cans of Slim-Fast, then waited between classes to watch her open her locker and sob. I’m now 986 years old and I’ve obviously never forgotten it, and it didn’t even happen to me.

Imagine how she feels!

This is basically that but on an industrial scale and it merits the question HOW STUPID DO YOU NEED TO BE TO THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA‽

Imagine how triggering this was for a lot of these women!

And Atkins Bars?

What is this, 2002? Unless Rob Lowe comes with it, at least give these women something good like a Kind Bar FFS!

I mean honestly!

Jezebel points out that this stunt could actually manifest in a negative outcome for these women, citing a study that links “thinness-promoting advertising”—such as including an un-asked-for diet bar in a box of unrelated clothing—to body image issues.

And as a couple women pointed out on Twitter, it could be triggering for women with eating disorders as well:

Judging from the overall Twitter response, if Forever 21’s goal was to trigger their customers with this deeply stupid tie-in, well, mission accomplished.

For their part, Forever 21 definitely got the hint.

The statement they sent Jezebel goes on to say that the bars “have since been removed,” and included an apology for the stunt:

“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.”

Numerous studies show fitness and health are unrelated to body shape and clothing size except when people are at extreme ends of the spectrum.

Even then, other people’s lives are no one else’s business. If you’re not paying their bills, zip your lip.

Meanwhile, add an avocado to your workout with this shirt, available here.