A new ad for Ellen DeGeneres' GapKids x ED collaboration has many Twitter users up in arms, saying the way the models are posed has a racist subtext. Below is the ad, featuring a pic of four girls from Le Petit Cirque.
Specifically, people are reacting to the way the older girl has her arm propped up on the Black girl's head in the photo.
The girls, aged between 8 and 12, work very closely with one another in Le Petit Cirque to make their acrobatic acts work.
Whether or not it was intended to convey a message of subservience, it doesn't mean that viewers, including young Black girls, won't perceive it as such and be harmed by the subtext. There were probably tons of photos from this shoot to select; these are cute girls who know how to perform. What several commentators on Twitter have pointed out is that having a diverse staff of people approving the photos used in the campaign might have prevented this one from going out.
We do not know the racial makeup of Gap Kids' marketing staff, so this argument remains theoretical. Neither Gap Kids nor Ellen DeGeneres have yet to comment on the reaction.