The GAP brand is notable for its contemporary, affordable clothing with marketing strategies that appeal to people of all backgrounds. Their division of children’s clothing is widely received as a playful platform for diversity. Unfortunately, by the looks of the latest GAPKids commercial, they’ve failed to execute a tasteful visual concept that proves “girls can do anything.”
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres collaborated with GAP to create a clothing line for young girls that is aimed to motivate and develop a sense of empowerment amongst them. In their attempts to market their latest venture, the fashion company included members of the world’s only children’s humanitarian CirQue group in the commercial. Conceptually this sounds great; however, what viewers get to visually align with these endeavors is the exclusion of eight-year-old Lucy, the only African American of the group that did not get the opportunity to voice or exude her magic.
In ad photos, the model placement is awful. There are three older white performers freely posing while Lucy is idle; her only function being “an armrest,” as poignantly pointed out in the midst of the Twitter backlash. What is also interesting to note is her facial expression, one that could suggest her awareness of being belittled.
In the commercial, DeGeneres shows face by sitting with the four young girls and listening to them explain their pivotal roles within the CirQue group. While all roles are important, Lucy is the only one that does not speak. She sits with her group, mute and aimlessly looking around. In one scene, she looked like she might have gestured to speak; if so, her part may have been edited out.
How was this not considered an error during play back? In a campaign of such great positive value, why was the only black girl silenced?
Our times are still socially abrasive so ideas of equality, cultural freedom, and recognition are always being provoked. GapKids’ failure to fairly represent young Lucy further reveal the backhanded progressivism of society. Needless to mention that Twitter went all the way up yesterday as the matters ignited a social debate.
This ad stands as a reminder to the importance of the #BlackGirlMagic movement and why it is necessary more than ever to continue to promote active, positive images of black girls and women operating as more than an armrest.
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