Nathalie Yves Gaulthier, founder of Le Petit Cirque, the youth performance group whose members are featured in the ad, said in a statement: "The child in the ad is not an "armrest", she's the other girl's little sister. They are a very close FAMILY. The child is a very young [junior] member with Le Petit Cirque, a humanitarian cirque company, and therefore a wee shyer than the more seasoned older outgoing girls. Our company is deeply saddened by some people misconstruing this as racist, and are keeping the children out if this at the moment to protect their beautiful feelings , but we are extremely supportive of dialogue in our country to move past any racial barriers. We stand by GAP KIDS and Ellen DeGeneres."