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When Forever 21 launched a new plus-size focused Instagram account in February called Forever21Plus, the reaction wasn't all positive. Commenters were upset about the models the brand chose to represent its clothes in sizes 0X to 3X, writing things like: "That’s not at all plus size!!" and "Wow this is so not plus..."
It seems Forever 21 listened to Instagram feedback, because the account (now at over 50,000 followers) has a different look. Instead of posting photos of models, the focus now is mostly on how plus-size bloggers style the clothes.
Some selective deleting was also involved in the feed's makeover. A few of the photos of models that were previously posted on the account are now gone, like this photo in Racked's post and a few of the photos included in Digiday's post.
Racked contacted Forever 21 about the missing photos; here's what a PR rep from the brand said:
We always appreciate our customers reaching out when they have a concern and therefore have removed some of the images and are working to ensure all of our future posts accurately represent the Forever 21 Plus customer. As a majority of the content on our social media accounts is user generated by our loyal customers, we encourage them to continue to share their own photos to provide a true representation of our clothing, embracing beauty in all shapes and sizes.
Fashion and lifestyle blogger Natalia Lilly tells Racked that Forever 21 reached out to her in conjunction with the Instagram launch, and that working with the brand has been a positive experience for her.
"I feel that having an Instagram account and utilizing bloggers and other social media tools is the perfect way to showcase the garment on different body types and will give shoppers the representation they deserve," she says via email.
"I am no expert on who chooses the models that are displayed on Forever21.com or the criteria for which the models are chosen, but this is nothing new," she says. "They continue to showcase 'curvy' woman who are probably a size 10-12, when the majority of their shoppers probably range in sizes 16 and larger. Unfortunately, we plus size woman have not yet crossed that bridge were big fashion houses find it more realistic to showcase a more accurate sized model that fits their shoppers."
But there's another criticism that Forever 21 continues to get on its plus size Instagram page: Why is it necessary to segregate plus-size styles in a separate Instagram in the first place? "We are all different sizes and shapes, so why characterize and differentiate larger women?" one commenter asked.
Natalia sees both pros and cons to having a separate plus-size F21 account. "Me personally, I don't care to see a newsfeed full of women who look nothing like me, and are showcasing clothes I cannot fit in nor purchase," she says, also noting that it will be easier for plus-size bloggers to get reposted to this new account, versus Forever 21's main account with 9 million followers.
As for the cons, there's one that's obvious. "We are still being categorized. The barrier between slim woman and plus size woman is still there," Natalia says. "Shoppers may feel as though they aren't worthy, that their looks and body type are not worthy enough to be featured on big account like Forever21."
For what it's worth, Forever 21 shared approximately four images of plus-size bloggers out of the more than 160 posts on the @Forever21 Instagram in the past six weeks.