NROP: To not offend – a Sisyphean task.

What served as inspiration for this post? A snack bar in an online order package.

Now I want you to take a moment and think why that would be a problem. The topic serves as a clue. Whom did it offend and why?



Did you come up with some ideas/ reasons?

Do you think the negative reaction was caused by:

  • the size of the bar (too small)?
  • the patriotic packaging (red, white and blue)?
  • the faces on the packaging (lack of diverse representation)?
  • none of the above?

I cannot know for sure, but I think that I would not come up with the real reason for the outrage had I not read the actual article.

Keep reading. The answer will be revealed shortly.

This time around Forever 21, a fashion outlet, is under rapid fire. All because of an innocent gift sent with online orders. If you ordered some clothes from this company last week, you might be one of the lucky ones who received a snack bar alongside their order. Please do let me know if you got one. I would love to know what your reaction was.

Apparently, one customer saw this as offensive because she wears plus size clothes and thought the bar said: “Go on a diet. You are too fat.” No, the packaging did not say anything remotely like that. She just assumed that was supposed to be the message behind a promotional snack bar attached to her order. She felt targeted as someone who is overweight and could not contain her emotions, so she went on Twitter to express her negative feelings towards Forever 21. Even though she asked if those bars were attached to orders with regular smaller sizes, she assumed that they have not. It sounded like a rhetorical question to me.

Of course, like anything not worth a second look nowadays, her tweet went viral and she is now giving interviews, etc. She will probably become an activist from now on and quit her current job like so many other viral celebrities. However, I have to admit that I am grateful for her outburst, because it gave me the chance to write this piece.

When I first read the article, I thought I would see a picture of a snack bar with the word “DIET” in big, bold letter. To my surprise, the packaging did not contain that word or any other suggestive wording. “What am I missing?” – I asked myself. And so I went directly to the source (the tweet that started it all) and saw a bunch of people complaining about the DIET bar. “What makes them say that?” – I kept wondering and scrolling, looking for an answer that seemed to be so obvious to everyone but me.

A Google search for “Atkins bars” shows “Protein & Meal Replacement Bars for a Low Carb Diet”. Truth be told, I did not read past the word “bars”, because protein bars are everywhere. They all promise something we supposedly want, like a large dose of protein, or a low dose of sugar. That search goes on to say that the bars make for perfect snacks or meals, and do not contain preservatives or artificial coloring or flavoring. Sounds good to me.

As I kept scrolling through those Twitter replies, I finally found my answer. Apparently, Atkins is a company everyone associates with a diet. I took a moment to think about why I eat snack bars every now and again. I do so because they are tasty, because they are convenient, because they have the nutrients/ ingredients I desire (protein, nuts, etc.). Never have I eaten one for weight – loss purposes. A lot of those bars are actually packed full with fats, so simply eating them will not help you shed some pounds. In could actually cause you to put on some extra pounds.

Back to Google I went. A quick search for “Atkins” fully answered my question. “Atkins low carb diet program uses a powerful life-time approach to successful weight loss. Sign up today for our weight loss plan & start a healthy future.” On my right-hand side, I saw an excerpt from Wikipedia: “The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate fad diet devised by Robert Atkins.”, as well as books on the topic of dieting.

People on Twitter were divided into two groups (like always). One group was defending the company and the bars, while the other was ripping the clothing store to pieces. Somehow the add-on turned from offensive to dangerous. How? Well, people claim that sending a snack bar to a person with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia could be triggering. What does not do that?

I have to admit that I felt privileged (because that is what everyone says when you work hard for something or are lucky) to not know why the company was associated with so much evil.

Naturally, it turned out that – YES – the snack bar was included with EVERY online order placed last week. What does that mean? It means that Forever 21 was not targeting overweight people. It was not a ploy to get them to go on a diet. It was a simple promotion partnership. Sometimes companies do that.

To close this post, I wanted to share a line from a song entitled “The Price Worth Fighting For” for you to ponder.

“When (…) every choice is an act of war…”

Why do we think that every action and word is meant against us?

Why do we always expect an affront?

How would you react if you received a promotional product on top of your order?

How would you feel if you got a protein bar with your order?

What would you do if that add-on product did not fit your lifestyle/ preference?

Stay golden,



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39 thoughts on “NROP: To not offend – a Sisyphean task.

Add yours

  1. I saw the reactions right away because this was a trending topic on Twitter immediately. Yep, this got people in a frenzy of outrage. They were “body shamed!” That’s the new thing on par with finding racism everywhere. Everything is so nuts I just can’t even.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew you would be aware of this since you seem to be on top of Twitter trends.
      You have to thread carefully with anything. For your birthday, be sure to invite people who are OK with their bodies, because cake just might set them off.
      I cannot odd.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. People are so easily offended these days, about EVERYTHING. They need to grow up. the world is not out to get them, and not everything has a double meaning. People just make me so sick today. It seems you can’t do anything nice anymore, because those who are looking for things to be outraged about, will find it in ANYTHING.

    The Atkiins diet is a very dangerous diet too. Our body NEEDS carbs. Carbs are our primary energy source and provide food for the brain. Dr. Atkins himself, the creator of the Atkins diet, died of a heart attack.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We keep saying how people need to grow a thicker skin, to realize that not everything is meant to offend them, but so many are not listening. It’s an avalanche that just doesn’t stop. The fact that we can now broadcast our every feeling to millions (social media) is only encouraging such behavior.

      I laugh when I hear current trends in dieting. We need it ALL. Carbs weren’t just invented yesterday and somehow people survived. They still do. I few weeks ago I heard that we should eat pizza for breakfast. Why? Because carbs give us energy, like you said. Fat powers us, too.

      Interesting tidbit about Dr. (?) Atkins.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. the world is quickly falling apart, and in large part because people today are wimps!

        People think cutting out fats and carbs is the answer, when in fact, they are doing their bodies a lot more harm than good by cutting them out.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wimps? Do you have any idea how many people you just offended with that one word? We are meant to nurture being in-tune with our feelings and being sensitive. We don’t want to foster toxic macho stereotypes.
          You know me by now, so you know I could not say that with a straight face. Unfortunately, some people do consider that true.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Is it just me or is the world (actually, the people in the world) getting crazier? I can’t remember ever reading before about someone getting offended by a free snack bar, or a free anything. People are so self obsessed nowadays. Actually ajeanneinthekitchen has said exactly what I’m thinking!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Self-obsessed! Yes, that explains A LOT of current issues. And no, it’s not just you. I thought that, too. This blog and readers like you proves that I am not just crazy thinking the world is insane.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. When this culture of faux outrage started to really take off, I was initially amazed and confused at the people who were finding offense in everything under the sun. Now, I am more amazed that those people are given attention and taken seriously.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I could not believe it when , as I scrolled through the Twitter replies, I saw the originator of all this announce she was being interviewed by a news network.
      It’s incredible what makes it onto the television.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post!
    Yes, people are wimps. Offended by a free snack. Oversensitive because they are fat. They want to go on Twitter and complain. They want to get something free from the company. If any logic was applied, they would know this is a marketing thing. If the company is selling plus size clothes, that is a sale in the bank! Why would they deliberately offend their customer?
    Dumb de dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think people overreacted to the bar, but I blame the company behind the promotion. In addition to the bar, the customers should have had a flyer explaining the reason for the treat. I didn’t catch the news about this but it seems to me the shop and the bar company got a lot of publicity. Maybe that was the intent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see your point. A note saying: “We’ve partnered up with this company and wanted to share this treat with all of your customers.” would be a good idea. I know there was a piece of paper included with the bar. I am not sure what it was. It looked like coupons. But maybe there was a note with an explanation. I cannot tell for sure.

      I don’t think that was the intent, because they all got rather negative publicity. I know that bad PR is still PR, but I don’t think that was the case.


  7. if you can get famous for being offended, get national air time, heck, get money for supposed harm, why not? There is a reason for the Golden Rule…the rule found in nearly every religion and culture. It’s to make sure we’re nice to each other. But there’s no money in that. There’s no fame in that. So actual harm is ignored and faux harm is sensationalized.

    Why did Forever 21 partner up with Atkins? What possible market advantage would that give? I can see that Atkins would get promotional access, but what would that do for Forever 21? Does Atkins now send a free pair of pants to anyone that buys a case of their protein bars? So F21 wanted to send their customers a tasty treat and since most people would prefer a healthy snack instead of an unhealthy one, they chose the protein bar. Oops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment made me think of something. Money. It seems to me that we live in times when more people than ever go backpacking. We keep hearing that money is not everything. And that it cannot buy happiness, and yet things like this prove that it is all a lie. Money still drives the world. Maybe even more viciously than before.

      It’s promoting Atkins, but it also inactivates Forever 21 shoppers because of the allure of free perks with their purchase. Free samples are always welcome. Well, at least so I thought. And if everything is equal, would you not choose to shop at a store that gives you a lolly over one that gives you only the things you buy?


  8. As an Avon lady, I throw samples in every one of my customers’ orders. Surprisingly, some of them get annoyed by this. Why? I’ve never understood it. It’s simply a marketing and advertising ploy – and it’s incredibly transparent: to make more sales. If you can’t (or don’t want to) use it, pass it on to someone else who can. I get free samples all the time–many of which I’m not interested in trying myself–and I just toss them in a basket in my spare bathroom for house guests to grab as desired/needed. People need to quit creating problems and start being the solution. Oy!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What? How do you know they get annoyed? Do they tell you that? Did you ask for the reasoning?
      Maybe because they don’t like it and they don’t want to pass it onto anyone, so they have to throw it out and they feel wasteful? My father never liked it when people would clog his trash with their things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, they’ve told me. When I deliver their orders, they dump everything out to verify it’s all there and correct before paying me, locate the sample, sigh (or roll their eyes), then hand it back to me and say something like “I’ll never use these – you shouldn’t bother.”

        I throw a variety of samples in – some of tgem I could see that being the case for but, most of the time, they are in line with what their buying history has been (e.g., lipstick samples when they’ve purchased lipstick).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Lol! Is that why we randomly got an Atkins lemon bar in the mail? I don’t remember what was ordered… but I remember the reaction to the bar… “Ooh!”

    Personally, I think that people are just frustrated. With their lives, with the world. So they channel their anger into whatever is convenient. I think we all do that to some degree. Like, if I were in a worse mood, I suspect I’d currently be trying to suppress a rant about political correctness and mob mentality… I’ve had a thing about that ever since watching The Mist (2007 movie, not series)…

    Nice song, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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