Marie Lodi
Updated April 06, 2016
Twitter / GapKids

In response to the controversial GapKids x ED ad in which a black child appears to be used as a prop while other white models actively pose around her, Gap has issued an apology.

In a statement to Co.Create (via The Root), Gap spokesperson Debbie Felix said, “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. This GapKids campaign highlights true stories of talented girls who are celebrating creative self-expression and sharing their messages of empowerment. 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 children featured in the ad campaign for Ellen DeGeneres’ clothing line for kids are members of an all-children acrobatic troupe called Le Petit Cirque. The photo, which was captioned, “Meet the kids who are proving that girls can do anything,” depicted four girls — two white children in acrobatic poses surrounding the group’s tallest girl who is resting her arm on the head of the sole black child.

After the questionable image was released on Twitter, users who found the image offensive began responding to the retailer with criticism.

Their comments also received pushback, with some pointing out that a similar pose has been used in a prior ad, with the ethnicity of the models reversed. “Does the @GapKids pic on the left make the pic on the right okay? Let’s debate,” tweeted user @MatthewACherry.

“In this instance, image matters more than intent. And the lack of racial and cultural diversity at the executive level, which allowed that image to be approved and circulated, is one of the many ways in which institutional and systemic racism functions. Those girls, all of them, deserved better than to be placed in such a racial tableau,wrote Kirsten West Savali of The Root.

Along with the apology, Gap replaced the image with a different photo.