What in the world?!
Gwen Stefani is now claiming she’s Japanese — and doesn’t see a single problem with that! Oh, boy…
The Hollaback Girl vocalist has often been criticized for cultural appropriation over the years, but her latest comments really take the cake! In a new interview with Allure, The Voice coach said that she — the daughter of an Italian-American father and Irish-American mother — is actually Japanese, despite having zero ethnic connections to the country. Girl, whut?!
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Explaining this to Allure for a new article out on Tuesday, Gwen recalled the time she visited the district of Harajuku in Japan before releasing her now-controversial Harajuku Lovers collection in 2004. It was during this trip she had a (rather odd) lightbulb moment, she expressed:
“I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.’”
She wasn’t joking either, since she doubled down:
“I am, you know.”
The writer, who is Asian, made a point to note Gwen said MULTIPLE times that she is Japanese, while also describing herself as “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.” The singer-songwriter also emphasized how she identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx communities of Anaheim, California, where she grew up, adding:
“The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity. Even though I’m an Italian American — Irish or whatever mutt that I am — that’s who I became because those were my people, right?”
Maybe she was just trying to say she felt like she fit in, but… that’s very different than insisting you ARE Japanese. Also, her rep chimed into the convo and only made the issue even messier! According to the interviewer, Jesa Marie Calaor, the Don’t Speak singer’s rep, reached out to her the day after the problematic half-hour conversation went down — pretty much just to gaslight her?! Ugh. The spokesperson tried to claim the journalist had simply “misunderstood” what Stefani was trying to convey. But when Allure later gave the celeb the opportunity to clarify on the record, Gwen’s team denied. Damn.
Perhaps the reason Blake Shelton’s wife didn’t want to elaborate on her statement is she had already used up her tried-and-true excuse for cultural appropriation! Elsewhere in the interview, Gwen opened up about being a “super fan” of Japanese culture, clearly making it known she has no qualms about her past:
“If [people are] going to criticize me for being a fan of something beautiful and sharing that, then I just think that doesn’t feel right. I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture.”
She concluded with a line we’ve heard all too often from her, saying:
“[It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
Sure, but being inspired by and profiting off of are two very different things!
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The Rich Girl performer has been put on blast many times for her controversial Harajuku era, but there have also been more recent instances of cultural appropriation. Take this summer, for example, when she wore her hair in dreadlocks and donned a dress inspired by the Jamaican flag. Back in her No Doubt era, while dating her Indian bandmate Tony Kanal, she was also often spotted wearing a bindi. Speaking out against the hate she has received, she told Billboard in 2019:
“I get a little defensive when people [call it culture appropriation], because if we didn’t allow each other to share our cultures, what would we be?”
The 53-year-old continued:
“You take pride in your culture and have traditions, and then you share them for new things to be created.”
Allure chatted with several experts to get their take on Gwen’s reasoning, and they did not hold back. Angela Nguyen, a therapist at the Yellow Chair Collective, a psychotherapist group with an emphasis on serving the Asian American community, told the outlet:
“A white person doesn’t have to face the racism, prejudices, or discrimination that a Japanese, Mexican, or El Salvadorian person would have to face. They can put on those bits of culture sort of like a costume.”
Not only are they then perpetuating harmful stereotypes, but they aren’t facing any of the real struggles those in minority groups deal with daily. So, simply put, Gwen is dead wrong here! You can read Allure‘s HOT TAKE on these comments in full HERE. Reactions?! Can you believe Gwen really — unapologetically (!!!) — said all this? Sound OFF (below)!
[Image via Nikki Nelson/WENN/Avalon]