So GAP have released a new ad campaign as part of the promotion for the new girls collection in partnership with Ellen Degeneres’ new lifestyle company ‘ED’. The video features 3 caucasian girls and an African-American girl interacting with Ellen DeGeneres. Take a look at a picture from the campaign below…
Angry? Annoyed? Okay fair enough. She doesn’t really say anything in the promotional video and the other girls seem a lot more involved and ‘purposeful’ in the ad so really why is there just a random African-American girl hanging out quietly. People are saying because the girl is so inactive she may just be ‘filling a quota’ so to speak and in the picture above the girl is being leaned on and so when you read into the details it does seem as though she is placed at a status of inferiority.
But seriously, let’s just take a step back.
In previous campaigns Gap have presented an African-American girl leaning on a Caucasian and so what makes this reversal so bad? As an Indian I tried to imagine myself in the situation and I really don’t see anything wrong. The girl being in the advert alone is a huge step, how often do we see people of minorities in fashion campaigns? Also we’re failing to consider here that there are a plethora of reasons that the girl may not be speaking. In all honesty I think she looks quite nervous visibly from the way she looks away from the camera a lot, totally normal and okay by the way. Maybe the girl was too nervous to speak? Maybe it was one of her first shoots and thus the fact scared her beyond belief? We are completely oblivious to any complications that may have arisen at the place and time of the shoot so who are we to judge?
Gap have however taken the photo down and issued a public apology saying they were ‘sorry to anyone [they’ve] offended’. The immediate response without any retaliation makes me think Gap hadn’t intentionally planned racism and have now panicked and apologised even though, they in my eyes, have no real fault.