Gap Kids found themselves in hot water on Sunday after the release of their latest ad campaign for GapKids X ED, the company's newest line of athletic kid's wear created in collaboration with Ellen DeGeneres.
The images feature pre-teen dance group Le Petite Cirque doing an array of poses.
— GapKids (@GapKids) April 2, 2016
And while the ads aimed to be empowering by "proving that girls can do anything," several Twitter users thought otherwise. Noting that while the rest of the crew strike some powerful poses, it appeared as if the only black girl in the advertisement was used as an armrest.
— Fatima La'Juan Muse (@TheTherapyDiva) April 2, 2016
— ReadEverythingDotCom (@ASHA7777) April 2, 2016
@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
In response, filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry tweeted a past GapKids ad, which featured similar shot, except a black girl had her arm on top of a shorter white girls' head, sparking further debate online.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) April 3, 2016
@MatthewACherry I say no, the cultural dynamic is different. We know it is.
— Enefa's daughter (@hiiamkadi) April 3, 2016
— Andrew Westmoreland (@drewwest_press) April 5, 2016
Following the backlash, a Gap spokesperson released the following statement to Mic:
"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. 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."
It's clear that based on the video below, several shots were taken during the shoot — many of which didn't include using anyone's head as an armrest. Regardless, the ad campaign and subsequent backlash definitely started a serious debate around diversity in advertising, a conversation which doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.
— GapKids (@GapKids) April 1, 2016
What do you think of the ad? Let us know in the comments below.