A new GapKids ad featuring a White girl resting her arm on a Black girl’s head stirred controversy this weekend. Gap apologized on Monday (April 4), saying that they would change their campaign going forth.
“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,” read a statement that Gap spokesperson Debbie Felix provided to FastCoCreate. “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.”
The ad, part of Gap’s new collaboration with Ellen Degeneres’ ED brand, featured members of youth dance company Le Petit Cirque. In it, a White girl stands above a Black girl, with the former’s arm resting on the latter’s head. FastCoCreate pointed out that the two girls are actually adopted sisters and daughters of actress Brooke Smith. Regardless, the ad’s apparent tokenism and depiction of a White girl using a Black one as an armrest drew widespread criticism:
@GapKids someone needs to get fired. it was ignorant in the first place to have 1 token black girl, then you make her the arm rest?
— La Única (@KALIUCHIS) April 3, 2016
— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) April 3, 2016
— D.Y.Turner (@crownlifelive) April 3, 2016