Clothing retailer Gap apologized on Tuesday after receiving criticism that an ad for the company’s children’s clothing line was racially insensitive.
The ad featured four members of the Le Petit Cirque group, an "all-kid humanitarian cirque company," comprised of performers ages 5 to 14. In the ad, an older white girl rests her elbow on top of a young black girl’s head, while two other white girls hold poses.
Gap tweeted the photo on April 2 with the caption, "Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything." While the ad was supposed to be empowering, many noted on social media that the black girl was being used as a "prop" or a piece of furniture.
Kristen West Savali of The Root noted that the “ad is what happens when black faces appear, but no black voices are at the table.”
Following the backlash on social media, Gap replaced the image and apologized to those who were offended.
“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,Fortune reported.
But while many condemned the ad, others on social media questioned whether people were reading too far into the ad.
Filmmaker Mathew A. Cherry pointed out that Gap used a similar pose in 2015, but with a black girl resting her arm on a younger white girls head.
"Does the @GapKids pic on the left make the pic on the right okay? Let's debate," he wrote on April 3