You would think that with all the drama surrounding racist, sexist, and rape-culture ads – companies would know better than to use an ad that has even a sliver of opportunity to offend anyone. Gap clearly didn’t get the memo. The company’s new ad is promoting the Gap x Ellen DeGeneres brand where all the proceeds will be given to girlsinc.org
The company featured a new ad where girls of Le Petit Cirque, a traveling circus company featuring boys and girls between the ages of 5 to 14 posed for a new campaign. The ad being seen as ‘racist’ is the one image on the right were a young African-American girl is posing next to a taller Caucasian who is propping her arm on the shorter girl’s head.
Gap has responded to criticisms by planning to remove the image featuring the four girls, and in a statement to Fortune, Gap spokeswoman Debbie Felix said “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”.
Is it really racist though?
When I’m shown this ad, what I see is a beautiful picture showcasing four girls’ talents and as Gap says – introducing the “girls who are proving girls can do anything”. I don’t see a black girl only being able to succeed only by bearing the weight of a white girl. Can you honestly say that you haven’t leaned on your shorter friend as a joke or because you just needed someone to lean on? Didn’t think so. I lean on my shorter friends all the time and I’ve never been called racist simply because my friend was Caucasian, African, or Asian. Listen, I don’t see any Asians in the photo and you don’t see me calling Gap out for being exclusive. Also, let’s be reminded that these are children who are a part of a group showcasing their talents in a modeling aspect, not models that Gap chose. Gap changed the ad on its website to the following one:
The craziest part of this ‘racist’ ad?
The two girls are sisters. SISTERS. Actress Brooke Smith, the mother of the two girls explained the result of the ad in the following tweet:
@TheRoot girl with arm resting on her shoulder is her sister She didn't talk in video because she was 2 shy. everyone needs to calm down.
— Brooke Smith (@Iam_BrookeSmith) April 3, 2016
If leaning on someone’s head that’s not of your own race is racist, is the photo on the left racist then? We are so quick to jump on anything that has a slight reach of being considered racist and are unwilling to maybe see a photo as being just an advertisement. Some people are shorter than others and leaning on people is a common thing to do. Not every single act is racist.
I think Smith put it correctly, “everyone needs to calm down”. This is clearly a photo shoot where the girls were having fun and just showing off their skills to promote a cute clothing line that is supporting a great cause.