Gap Ad With Sikh Model Waris Ahluwalia Defaced, Internet Awesomeness Causes Company to Respond
There are days when you hate the Internet, and days when it helps restore your faith in humanity.
This story doesn't start out well. On Sunday a defaced Gap ad featuring Sikh actor and jewelry designer Waris Ahluwalia made its way around the social media sphere, HuffPost Religion reported. The original caption "Make Love" had been changed to "Make Bombs," with additional scrawling of "Please Stop Driving Taxis!" beside the photo.
Arsalan Iftikhar, senior editor at The Islamic Monthly and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, posted a photo of the defaced ad to his Twitter and Facebook wall.
Iftikhar wrote at The Daily Beast:
As a media commentator (and person of color) who regularly talks about issues related to race, ethnicity and identity issues on a daily basis, I could not sit on my hands and do nothing. So when I saw this GAP subway advertisement defaced by vandals with racist messages, I wanted the world to see how millions of brown people are viewed in American today.
Gap reached out via Twitter to Iftikhar to find out the location of the billboard — according to Sikh24, the ad is located in the Bronx— and also changed their Twitter header image to the ad with Ahluwalia to show solidarity. We're impressed, Gap.
So was Iftikhar, who wrote:
Companies like Gap are doing a great job forging a path for minority and under-represented fashion models (like Waris Ahluwahlia above) who do not conveniently fit into our traditional American notions of beauty and actually challenge how we have superficially defined those terms since our country’s existence.
HuffPost also reported that some members of the Sikh community have started a "Thank you, Gap" Facebook campaign to commend the company for including a Sikh model in their ads. In a letter to the company, they wrote:
"By placing a Sikh model ... on billboards, direct mail advertising and digital channels, you have raised the profile of Sikhs in ways the community couldn’t have accomplished with its limited resources."
On the Facebook page, a diverse group of people have been moved by the company's actions. "I am not Sikh, but I applaud Gap for this stand on making the world a better place through diversity and community," wrote Mary Austern.
According to the Facebook page, Gap will replace the defaced poster with a new, clean poster. A wall post on the page says, "We are grateful to Gap for swiftly addressing this incident and for their remarkable response. Hate has no place in a civilized society."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.