Forever 21 said it sometimes surprises customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders across all sizes and categories, not specifically customers who purchase from their plus-size collection.
“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 retailer said in a statement to InStyle.
Last week, Twitter users shared images of the free Atkins Lemon Bar they received in their online order shipments. Several users ordered from the plus-size collection and asked Forever 21 if the bar was sent as a message for them to lose weight.
“I went from a size 24 to 18, still a plus size girl, so I ordered jeans from @Forever21,” @MissGirlGames wrote. “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?”
User @caileeargudo also wrote: “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.”
Online critics alleged Forever 21 was promoting eating disorders and fat-shaming its customers by sending out the diet bar. Other users who ordered smaller sizes tweeted that they also received diet bars with their orders. Still, others affirmed diet bars should not be sent out with clothing shipments regardless of the size because it still evokes a negative message toward one's body image.
“i just bought a bunch of xs/s clothes and got one too, i don't think its anything personal..,” @stxrkid wrote.
Atkins said in a statement Tuesday that it’s "focused on a lifestyle nutritional approach where everyone can benefit from overall health and well-being."
"The intention of sampling Atkins products is to share snacks that taste great with optimal nutritional benefit," the statement said, according to USA Today.