Pret-a-Reporter

Gap Apologizes Following Racism Claims About Social Media Ad

Courtesy of GAP/Instagram
Gap Kids x ED campaign

The brand is one of many facing pressure from social media users.

Gap Kids has come under fire for posting an ad campaign for Ellen DeGeneres' clothing line that many on social media are deeming racist.

The retailer posted a tweet Saturday, promoting the Gap Kids x Ed line, with the caption, "Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything." One image sees a girl leaning on a telescope, while another photo shows a spectacled girl on the turntables. But the one that elicited frustrated reactions from the interwebs was the image featuring four young ladies from dance group Le Petit Cirque — two white girls showing off their flexibilities and the third white girl using a black girl's head has an armrest.

"@GapKids proving girls can do anything ... unless she's Black. Then all she can do is bear the weight of White girls. #EpicFail," wrote one Twitter user. Added another: "Thanks for perfectly illustrating what 'passive racism' looks like in mainstream media."

The responses led Gap spokesperson Debbie Felix to issue the following statement, as seen posted on Le Petit Cirque's Facebook page

"This GapKids campaign highlights true stories of talented girls who are celebrating creative self-expression and sharing their messages of empowerment," said Felix. "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 image, however, has yet to be deleted from Gap's Twitter page.

Gap is one of several retailers facing the pressures of social media backlash and issuing statements to mitigate their followers' frustrations. Lululemon's Beyonce debacle from last week comes to mind.

When a follower asked if Bey's new athleisure line, Ivy Park, was supposed to be similar to Lululemon, the Canadian brand responded with a cheeky answer: "They do say imitation is the best form of flattery. Maybe Beyonce is so Crazy In Love with our brand, she made her own." But of course, that didn't go well with the Beyhive, leading Bey fanatics to call the athletic label "ugly and overpriced" and say "RIP." Though Lululemon didn't address the situation with an official statement, it did delete the tweet — all because of social media pressure.

Lands' End issued an apology earlier this year after it featured an interview with feminist figure Gloria Steinem in its spring catalog because according to the company's statement, some customers saw the feature as the Dodgeville, Wis.-based retailer taking a political and religious stance. But as Jezebel pointed out, even when the Equal Rights Amendment was brought up during the interview — which mostly touched upon her style — Steinem provided a short and sweet answer: "We need a constitutional principle of female quality. The Equal Rights Amendment would give us a constitution that prohibits gender discrimination." Yet, that was enough for Facebook users to slam Lands' End and get the retailer to say sorry.

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