Forever 21 just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines this week.
On Tuesday, several journalists blasted the clothing store for selling biker shorts that had the words “Fake News” all over them:
— Pamela Wood☀️ (@pwoodreporter) July 23, 2019
Yesterday, the store was hit with another wave of complaints, this time from people accusing them of “fat-shaming.” Why? Because a few plus-sized customers wrote on Twitter that they got Atkins diet bars with their recent clothing orders.
Check out some of the tweets posted:
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
— jesse (@jessemarisaelao) July 19, 2019
What the hell, @Forever21?? Not only is this incredibly fatphobic, but sending diet bars unsolicited is down right harmful to the customers & could negatively impact anyone with a ED. This is beyond disgusting. Stop forcing diet culture down peoples throats. https://t.co/c9wovKs6w8
— Destiny ☕️✍🏼 (@thefatauthor) July 23, 2019
hey @Forever21, maybe you shouldn’t treat your plus size customers like shit? and maybe you shouldn’t do gimmicky shit like this because idk? You don’t know what someone is going through.
How fucking toxic do you have to be? thanks for ensuring that I shouldn’t spend money w you https://t.co/Ipe370ijgf
— 🧜🏼♀️ mermaid queen 🧜🏼♀️ (@MerQueenJude) July 23, 2019
So this happened to me too. Ordered some leggings and joggers (in a size large not that it matters) and they put an Atkins bar in my package 🙃
Ummm fuck off @Forever21
I'm returning this stuff as soon as I can https://t.co/7mi4p4Ucnl
— Micaaaaaaaah 🖤 (@micahmorgz) July 23, 2019
There were many more tweets along those lines.
The comments to some of the top tweets on the “issue” included reporters from national TV shows like “Inside Edition” and local news affiliates for ABC, Fox, etc. who were asking the Twitter users for permission to use their stories – and in some cases, they asked them for interviews. Everyone wanted to get in on the outrage and amplify the voices of those who were “offended.”
It was like watching the outrage machine blow up in real time.
The only problem is the Atkins bars weren’t just sent to plus-sized customers. They were sent to all customers who had online orders, including those who ordered jewelry and other non-clothing items:
They have a deal with Atkins and put it in all of the orders. Including jewelry. I don’t think they meant harm, I just think they’re doing their business deal they have with that brand. It’s not targeting plus size women.
— neptune. (@AmaniWintour) July 24, 2019
The store confirmed it was a marketing partnership in a statement issued to multiple news outlets:
“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.”
I should note that In Style magazine did the right thing by putting an update to their piece at the top of the story page (which included the store’s statement). In Shape‘s and Jezebel‘s pieces on this story, they noted the update underneath their respective articles at the bottom of the page, where not many people will see it. The Mary Sue piece has not been updated at all.
Jezebel does a whole outrage post about Forever 21 fat-shaming plus-size customers by sending them diet bars w/their order, doesn't bother confirming 'til afterward that all customers were sent the freebie https://t.co/nBHHgWLJt9
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) July 24, 2019
This is one of the many problems with outrage culture and online mobs: People don’t wait for the facts. Someone posts something seemingly outrageous on social media, and then a bunch of people start piling on. Then broadcast journalists and other writers get involved and want access to the “outrageous” stories being told.
All before knowing what the full story actually is. And by the time it is known, it’s too late. The damage is done.
I wish I could predict with confidence that this will one day stop, but I know it won’t. Social media has made it too easy for online mobs of people with nothing better to do to stir up the hornet’s nest.
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –