Update: Gap is pulling the unexpectedly controversial ad for Ellen DeGeneres' collaboration with the retailer, GapKids x ED. The ad, which stars four girls from a youth circus group, has been called passively racist by scores of Twitter users since the image debuted over the weekend. The retailer announced on Monday that the image (one of numerous shots featured in the campaign) would be replaced in response to the deluge of critical feedback. Le Petite Cirque's founder, Nathalie Yves Gaulthier, released a statement on Facebook today about the situation. "The child in the ad is not an 'armrest,' she's the other girl's little sister, they are a very close family," Gaulthier writes. "The child is a very young Jr member with Le Petite Cirque, a humanitarian cirque company, and therefore a wee shier than the more seasoned older, outgoing girls. Our company is deeply saddened by some people misconstruing this as racist." Gaulthier also voiced her support of Gap Kids and DeGeneres in the post. "As a brand with a proud 46-year history of championing diversity and inclusivity, we appreciate the conversation that has taken place and are sorry to anyone we’ve offended," a Gap spokeswoman said in a statement, according to ABC News. "This GapKids campaign highlights true stories of talented girls who are celebrating creative self-expression and sharing their messages of empowerment. We are replacing the image with a different shot from the campaign, which encourages girls (and boys) everywhere to be themselves and feel pride in what makes them unique." Originally published on April 3, 2016.
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.