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Gwen Stefani Declares ‘My God, I’m Japanese,’ But Let’s Be Clear — She’s Not

No, Gwen Stefani, your father frequently traveling between California and Japan for work does not make you Japanese. This is an almost laughably absurd clarification to have to make, but during a recent interview with Allure, the singer reportedly asserted multiple times: “My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.”

Despite being born to an Italian-American father and an Irish-American mother, Stefani felt comfortable sitting in front of a first-generation Filipina American reporter while discussing her latest beauty venture, GXVE Beauty — which arrives fourteen years after the debut of her Harajuku Lovers fragrance collection — and making the unsubstantiated claim without shame. When the writer didn’t immediately respond, still processing what she had heard, the singer doubled down: “I am, you know.”

Is this Japanese ethnicity in the room with us right now?

Stefani has been at the center of accusations rooted in the appropriation and fetishization of Asian aesthetics for nearly two decades. In 2004, she released her debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which featured a concrete visual aesthetic drawing from Harajuku fashion — including a crew of four Japanese and Japanese American women who danced backup on the accompanying Harajuku Lovers Tour and attended red carpets with the singer. Then followed numerous clothing and fragrance collections drawing inspiration from the same cultural export.

“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,” Stefani told Allure. “I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture.”

Stefani referred to herself as a “super fan” while describing the “innocence” of her relationship with Japanese culture. In defense of her appropriation, she added: “[It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed, then that’s dividing people, right?”

Wrong. While the lines between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation may blur at times for some, there really isn’t any gray area in claiming a culture that doesn’t belong to you as your own, regardless of how much you have benefitted from it both personally and financially.

At least the singer doesn’t think she’s entirely Japanese. During the interview, she broke herself down into three categories: “A little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.” She also expressed that she identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx communities in her hometown of Anaheim, California.


“The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” she told Allure. “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?”

Wrong again. That really just isn’t how it works. Allure reported that representatives for Stefani insisted that the singer’s comments were misconstrued but declined to issue any further comments clarifying her statements.

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