Forever shamed

24 July 2019 | Jo Doverman
In this week’s edition of bad PR we’ve noticed in the news, we have two super-giant American brands accused of body shaming their customers and the public. Sound like your kinda thing? Do read on…

Forever 21 is one of the leading fashion brands on the high street across the world. Predominantly aimed at those under the age of 21, despite the name, the brand provides a plethora of fashionable styles for the average trendy gal. Looking for some biker shorts or a teeny tiny crop top? Then Forever21 has you covered (told you, no good for us over 21s). Like most high street brands, the clothing store has branched away from solely promoting size zero models over the years and introduced a plus size range. However, it seems it’s come under fire this week for body shaming its customers – regardless of size.

Angry and upset customers took to Twitter (as they always do) to tell the world that in their Forever21 delivery they had received an Atkins diet bar as a freebie partner gift. It was initially reported that the snack bars designed to supress your appetite in order to lose weight, were only found in the plus size orders but it later turned out that Forever21 deems all sizes too big, as they had put these bars into every delivery.

In a world of #bodypositivity and #selflove, this was a crazy silly move from Forever21 as it does very little to empower its female customers – who are young, impressionable and probably struggling with their size due to society’s ‘perfect bod’. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a free snack in my clothing delivery, it’s a delightful surprise. However, it’s worth choosing that freebie or partner wisely when the majority of the world are living through their mobiles, ready to pounce and announce the PR error online to the masses.

Another PR mishap in the world of body shaming this week comes from Macy’s, the lifestyle superstore in the states. A selection of plates were pictured from in-store and shared online with the Tweet reading “how can I get these plates from Macy’s banned in all 50 states”? A phrase I’m sure many American citizens are whispering a version of on a daily basis about their current president…

Now, these plates were not riddled with racial slurs or homophobic remarks, they actually look quite nice with a very understated design. However, the plates read: “Skinny jeans”, “Favourite jeans”, “Mom jeans” with a circle to mark the portion size should you want to fit into the skinny jeans, or if you’re happy having a big ol’ plateful for your mom jeans. It could almost have gone unnoticed with its subtlety – which is exactly the problem. The sly and sneaky ways brands will ‘jokingly’ hint that portion sizes need controlling, or push diet snacks under our noses to suggest perfectly average sized people are overweight is a huge problem.

Both brands have since removed these products from their stores with Forever21 defending itselfs with a statement: “The intention of sampling Atkins products is to share snacks that taste great with optimal nutritional benefit” and Macy’s holding their hands up and awkwardly side-eyeing the fool who came up with the idea… “we appreciate you sharing this with us and we agree that we missed the park on this product.”

At least they both saw the error of their ways and hopefully, moving forward, will look a little closer at their designs and brand partners.