An Old Navy ad intended to be an inclusive showing of diversity ended up providing fodder for internet trolls over the weekend.
Old Navy on Friday released an online ad apparently featuring an interracial family as part of the clothing retailer's Thank You Event, a promotion offering a deal to customers who sign up for the company's newsletter. The photo ad shows a black woman next to a white man, presumably a couple, smiling with their arms around each other. The man is giving a young boy, which could be their son, a piggyback ride. The happy image unfortunately sparked a backlash from some internet trolls who did not take kindly to Old Navy's display of diversity.
— Old Navy Official (@OldNavy) April 29, 2016
Many on social media attacked the ad, accusing Old Navy of unnecessarily pushing an "anti-white agenda" or miscegenation on its customers and bending to pressure to be more politically correct.
My family and I will never step into an @OldNavy store again. This miscegenation junk is rammed down our throats from every direction.
— Cultural Combat (@CulturalCombat) April 29, 2016
— Europa Addio (@Europa_Addio) May 2, 2016
— Mary Whittier (@marylovefreedom) May 1, 2016
The social media accounts of a large portion of the ad's detractors, including the ones featured above, include myriad additional racially inflammatory posts about various other hot-button issues, signaling that the controversy is largely the work of dedicated trolls aiming for a reaction. Many have bragged about the media attention their protests of the Old Navy ad have accrued.
However, the negative attention picked up enough momentum that Grace Mahary, the female model featured in the ad, took to social media to respond to the criticism. Mahary wrote on her Instagram account: "In light of the controversy revolving around my pretend family... I am proud to be representing interracial love, multiculturalism, and most importantly, a mentality that supports opportunity for all ethnicities. Thanks [Old Navy]."
Soon after the racially charged reactions to the ad picked up steam, many more internet users rushed to Old Navy's defense. The negative responses have largely been drowned out by those praising the clothing retailer for posting the ad in the first place. Old Navy has not yet commented on the controversy.