Clothing retailer Gap apologized after pulling an advertisement for Ellen DeGeneres’ children’s clothing line attacked as racist by social media users.
On Friday, the GapKids official Twitter account tweeted the company’s latest advertisement for its GapKids x ED clothing line, captioning the post: “Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything.”
meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything.
— GapKids (@GapKids) April 2, 2016
But social media users quickly called the ad racist for depicting a white girl leaning on a smaller black girl for support.
Who the fuck approved this for an ad? Fuck y'all and this white feminist shit. https://t.co/HWmpdyx3lx
— Bae Guevara (@Thug_Scholar) April 3, 2016
— Luke (@lukemort) April 3, 2016
— Fatima La'Juan Muse (@TheTherapyDiva) April 2, 2016
— E. Tammy Kim 김태미 (@etammykim) April 5, 2016
— mb (@MonaB2010) April 3, 2016
“While all of the girls are adorable, and indeed, all of them should grow up to be and do anything, it becomes problematic when the black child is positioned to be a white child’s prop,” Kirsten Savali wrote in an op-ed for The Root, calling the ad “dehumanizing.”
The company quickly removed the photo from its website and issued an apology on Tuesday.
“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,” Gap spokeswoman Debbie Felix said in a statement, according to the New York Daily News.
“This GapKids campaign highlights true stories of talented girls who are celebrating creative self-expression and sharing their messages of empowerment,” the statement continued. “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.”
Of course, not everyone was offended by the advertisement. Filmmaker Matthew Cherry pointed out that the clothing company used a similar pose for an ad in 2015, only with a black girl resting her arm on a white girl’s head:
Retailers must remain vigilant these days to avoid offending customers with advertisements, as critics have branded everything from potato chip advertisements to the Chinese posters for the latest Star Wars film as racist.
In February, a Super Bowl ad for Apartments.com featuring popular rapper Lil Wayne was called racist, while a Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad from 2013 faced a similar accusation from Arab-American groups. Whole Foods and cosmetics company Lancôme have also released advertisements deemed problematic in recent years.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum