Gwen Stefani Sparks Backlash After Saying 'I'm Japanese' To Defend Past Cultural Appropriation In Bizarre Interview
Gwen Stefani's recent interview with Allure sparked immediate backlash amongst readers.
Many of the singer's past projects—like her fashion line L.A.M.B. and her Harajuku era and subsequent fragrance line—have been seen as controversial and have been the topic of many discussions surrounding cultural appropriation.
Her attempt to address the backlash did not help her case.
Stefani - who was born and raised in California - said that her father, who is Italian, traveled between America and Japan for his job with Yamaha. Eventually, the singer was able to travel to Harajuku herself.
And then the No Doubt frontwoman bizarrely shared:
"I said, 'My God, I'm Japanese and I didn't know it.' I am, you know."
"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."
Stefani continued that she is "a little bit of an Orange Country girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl."
"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?"
The response on Twitter was a resounding, "She said what now?"
\u201cGwen Stefani used Asian women as props to help her get rich, and her response is... "I'm Japanese"???? https://t.co/6PaEhqrzQx\u201d— Olivia Truffaut-Wong (@Olivia Truffaut-Wong) 1673372517
\u201cGwen Stefani is the biggest culture vulture, you can appreciate a culture without having four voice less Japanese women follow you around. Now she's saying she's Japanese, girl gtfo.\u201d— Kemi (she/her) \ud83d\udc96\ud83d\udc9c\ud83d\udc99 (@Kemi (she/her) \ud83d\udc96\ud83d\udc9c\ud83d\udc99) 1673384081
\u201cGod, imagine being an Asian American editor and hearing @gwenstefani repeat over & over again, \u201cI\u2019m Japanese\u201d\n\nPeople like Gwen Stefani can adopt all the cool things they want from Asian cultures, yet won\u2019t have to worry about being pushed off a NYC subway platform bc of her race\u201d— Pao \u2600\ufe0f\ud83c\udf19 (@Pao \u2600\ufe0f\ud83c\udf19) 1673406602
\u201cimagine you're gwen stefani's pr team and you've done the years of work to bury her fetishism and cultural appropriation from the public's consciousness and in 2023 she brings it back to the forefront, DOUBLES DOWN, and goes around calling herself japanese. I would just quit lmao\u201d— Kay Taylor Rea (@Kay Taylor Rea) 1673392815
\u201cIt is disappointing that Gwen Stefani is choosing to double-down on her Orientalism in 2023. I remember how uncomfortable her \u201cHarajuku Girls\u201d era made me almost 20 years ago, but it wasn\u2019t so easy to share those feelings pre-social media. https://t.co/oCmU38Bu55\u201d— Erica Kanesaka \u517c\u5742\u3048\u308a\u304b \ud83c\udf38 (@Erica Kanesaka \u517c\u5742\u3048\u308a\u304b \ud83c\udf38) 1673398256
that’s so wild, she easily could’ve just said “i really felt at home in Japan” or “i was fascinated with harajuku culture” or smth😭 that’s so…
— bea⁷ ⟭⟬ VIBE❤️🔥 (@joonielvur) January 10, 2023
\u201cgwen stefani said she was japanese because she was a fan of harajuku culture. like wow, I didn't know you could become multiracial just like that.\u201d— paused mortem \ud83d\udc80 (@paused mortem \ud83d\udc80) 1673407786
Now she could’ve just said she really loves Japanese culture and left it at that but she had to go and make it weird
— Finn Avocadorable 🥑 (@FinleyDyer9) January 10, 2023
I have no words. The Japanese culture is not a state of mind
— aly 🌻💙💛 (@625aly) January 10, 2023
\u201cWell, I certainly didn't have Gwen Stefani declaring, "I'm Japanese!" on my 2023 bingo card.\u201d— Nicholas Hautman (@Nicholas Hautman) 1673363006
The Allure interview included a note from the writer that stated:
"A representative for Stefani reached out the next day, indicating that I had misunderstood what Stefani was trying to convey."
"'Allure' later asked Stefani's team for an on-the-record comment or clarification of these remarks and they declined to provide a statement or participate in a follow-up interview."
Here's hoping it was all just a big misunderstanding.