Forever 21 Says Atkins Bars That Shipped With Orders Were an 'Oversight'

Forever 21 came under fire for including Atkins bars in their online orders.
Getty

Katya Fuchs had been searching high and low for an outfit to wear to her friend's wedding when a box arrived on her doorstep.

It came as a surprise, as the 27-year-old Florida-based law school student hadn't ordered anything, because though she knew what sort of outfit she wanted to don for her buddy in Boston's big day, nothing she had stumbled upon fit the bill. 

"I was venting my frustrations to my mom, and she called me and said 'Hey, I found some jumpsuits on Forever 21 I think you're going to look great in,'" Fuchs told InsideEdition.com. 

But along with the outfits came something neither Fuchs nor her mother had any interest in ordering. 

"I pulled out three jumpsuits and inside, along with no invoice, was that Atkins bar," Fuchs said. 

Fuchs was one of at least seven people who posted on Twitter in the last five days about receiving, or knowing someone who had received, an Atkins snack bar along with a coupon to purchase more at a discount, with their Forever 21 order, which included clothing that was plus-sized. 

At first, Fuchs could only laugh at what she said she views as a slight. 

"I called my friend, and I said, 'I'm pretty sure Forever 21 just insulted me," Fuchs said. "I was able to handle the insult well, but there are a lot of people who couldn't." 

Fuchs' journey concerning fitness and health has been a long one. As a teenager, she was sent to a weight loss boarding school, where she dropped 130 pounds. 

"But throughout college, throughout different life experiences, I gained weight," Fuchs said. "In law school, I gained weight. My grandmother passed away, and I gained weight." 

After moving to Miami, Fuchs found a gym she enjoyed going to and she created an Instagram account to track her progress and keep herself accountable. 

"I'm down 47 pounds since the end of January," she said. "I've kind of been on my own weight loss journey for a while, and I've gained a little bit of self-confidence. ... But I could genuinely see this triggering a lot of people, and that's not fair. There's a lot of potential problems that could come out of this, especially for teenage girls."

Critics on social media panned Forever 21 for what they said was fat-shaming behavior that could harm individuals struggling with eating disorders or general self-image.

"I went into a spiral after," Ganiella Garcia, 33, told InsideEdition.com. While trying on two skirts, two dresses and a camisole that she bought online, she noticed the snack bar at the bottom of her bag. 

"The implication of sending that is huge; [I thought] maybe they don't want to sell me clothes anymore, maybe they're going to get rid of the plus-size section, and this is them saying get down to a size they will sell," Garcia, of New York, said. "Getting the bar, I thought, 'What is happening, and who are you to tell me how to live my life?'"

While the snack bars that appeared to have been included in some Forever 21 orders are not specifically marketed as diet products, the Atkins brand is known for the Atkins diet, which promotes weight loss through limiting carbohydrate intake. A study found the Atkins diet to not be any more effective than other weight loss techniques and experts say carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and help keep blood cholesterol levels in check.

"At the end of the day, Atkins is a diet that is a low-carb diet," Fuchs said. "Growing up ... you hear certain trigger words: Atkins, Weight Watchers, Dieting — they go hand in hand. And besides, no one should be telling me what to eat, and no one should be telling me what sort of diet I should be on."

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Atkins said today the company "is focused on a lifestyle nutritional approach that everyone can benefit from for overall health and well-being. Our brand evolution is reflected in the current marketing efforts to highlight the health benefits of eating a low carb/low sugar Atkins lifestyle, with a portfolio of nutritious and delicious snacks for everyone. The sampling of Atkins products is to share snacks that taste great with optimal nutritional benefit."

In a statement to InsideEdition.com, Forever 21 said all customers who ordered items within a specific period of time received Atkins bars with their purchases and that the size of the clothing bought was not a factor.

“From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders," Forever 21 said. "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.”

Garcia said that while she appreciated Forever 21's response to their customers' reaction, the damage was done. Though she often shops at Forever 21 both online and in person, Garcia said she no longer plans to. 

"I work in Times Square in New York City and Forever 21 is right around the corner, so it's easy," she said. "I think I'll be fine shopping elsewhere."

RELATED STORIES 

Woman's Obituary Calls Out Fat-Shaming in Medical Community

Netflix Series ‘Insatiable’ Accused of Fat-Shaming Its Main Character

Playboy Playmate Dani Mathers Charged Over Fat-Shaming Locker Room Picture