Singer Gwen Stefani is facing backlash for a statement she made in a recent interview.
The Italian American singer made the bold statement when Allure senior editor Jesa Marie Calaor asked her to speak on cultural appropriation accusations she received during her Harajuku era.
She told the outlet, “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. … [It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?” Stefani said.
Stefani added that her father sparked her love of the culture after sharing stories of his travels to Japan. She claimed he told her about the captivating performance scene in the country, detailing “street performers cosplaying as Elvis and stylish women with colorful hair.”
She described how her obsession with the culture grew when she began to travel as an adult.
If claiming another nationality wasn’t cringeworthy enough, Stefani gave these responses to an Asian American journalist.
In the published piece, interviewer Calaor included her feelings about how the singer’s comments could come off as insensitive.
She wrote, “Like Stefani, I am not Japanese. But I am an Asian woman living in America, which comes with sobering realities during a time of heightened Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate. … I envy anyone who can claim to be part of this vibrant, creative community but avoid the part of the narrative that can be painful or scary.”
She noted that Stefani insisted she was Japanese twice during the interview and said she was a “little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.”
She also wrote about how Stefani identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx cultures.
“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?” Stefani said.
Stefani has been under fire for her questionable references to other cultures for some time now.
NBC News mentioned she often wore a bindi, a Hindu symbol worn on women’s foreheads to indicate they’re married, and Bantu knots, a traditional hairstyle from the Zulu people of South Africa, in the ’90s.
I know everyone is bringing up the Harajuku stuff w/ Gwen Stefani b/c of her recent comments connected to JP. But, goodness, remember her looks in the 90s? Whenever I think of her, I tend to remember her No Doubt days first & foremost, b/c yeah, she was culture vulture then too. pic.twitter.com/8sXssEIWAC
— 🖤💜LilyGinnyBlack🖤💚 (@jesscan_LGB) January 11, 2023
Perhaps, the most egregious act was when she paraded an entourage of Japanese women around while promoting her Love.Angel.Music.Baby debut solo album, providing aliases to the background dancers to represent each title segment: Maya Chino, Love; Jennifer Kita, Angel; Rino Nakasone, Music; and Mayuko Kitayama, Baby.
Stefani has never backed down from defending her shameless use of other cultures.
In an interview with Paper, the singer compared her actions to buying and trading.
“If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know?” Stefani told the magazine.
“We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more.”