"If [people are] going to criticise me for being a fan of something beautiful and sharing that, then I just think that doesn’t feel right."
Gwen Stefani has made headlines over the years for appropriating different cultures, namely Japanese culture, since releasing her 2004 smash hit album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
The weirdness of her 2008 Harajuku Lovers perfume collection, which she received significant backlash about, is nothing: the title from Stefani’s debut solo album stemmed from the nicknames she bestowed on the “Harajuku Girls,” Stefani’s crew of four Japanese American dancers who joined her on stage, in music videos and most places she went.
Stefani was asked about that strange era in a new interview with Allure, where she doubled down on the events that were already controversial. “I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it,'” she told Allure’s Senior Editor, Jesa Marie Calaor, during a story where she recalled her first visit to Tokyo. Stefani’s Italian American father, who worked at Yamaha, frequently travelled for his job.
Stefani added, “If [people are] going to criticise 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… [It] should be OK to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
Calaor noted that as the interview went on, “Stefani asserted twice that she was Japanese and once that she was ‘a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl’.” A representative for Stefani reached out to Allure and said that Calaor misconstrued Stefani’s comments but declined to comment further.
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The Don’t Speak singer also stated that she identifies with the Latinx communities living in Anaheim, California, her childhood city. “The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” she said. “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?” Read the rest of the interview here.
Her comments have subsequently led to some online discussion, which you can view below.
Gwen Stefani got very, uh, honest after editor Jesa Marie Calaor asked about the 2008 backlash against the Harajuku Lovers collection. In my 6 years at @Allure_magazine, this might be the strangest celebrity interview we’ve published: https://t.co/9cqg79YMj7— Sam H. Escobar (@myhairisblue) January 10, 2023
It's incredible that, almost 20 years ago, Gwen Stefani did an extended race-play act that basically no one would accept today, completely got away with it as everyone forgot, and then proactively brought it up again just now. https://t.co/uUEhpV4Nsl— Daniel D'Addario (@DPD_) January 10, 2023
if you see 'Gwen Stefani' and 'Coachella' trending, you might think Gwen Stefani is playing Coachella. you would be wrong. Coachella is Coachella and Gwen Stefani is Japanese— Tanya Chen (currently “training” for a “marathon”) (@tanyachen) January 10, 2023
Well, I certainly didn't have Gwen Stefani declaring, "I'm Japanese!" on my 2023 bingo card. https://t.co/6VCOkOYlCv— Nicholas Hautman (@nickhautman) January 10, 2023
A few weeks ago, Stefani indicated that she hasn’t ruled out a No Doubt reunion.
In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, Stefani told the publication, "What are the odds of anything? I was just on The Drew Barrymore Show. She was one of my favourite celebrities when I was a little girl, and now I was just on the show with her. Anything can happen."
She added, "I have no idea what’s going to happen with No Doubt. We haven’t really talked about doing anything, but it feels like everyone is, right? All the ’90s people — Blink-182 did an eight-month tour that sold out in like five minutes."