Gwen Stefani raised a few eyebrows when she claimed she’s Japanese in a new interview.
The singer spoke to Allure about her fascination with Japanese culture, saying she’s a superfan. She reflected on her father’s job at Yamaha, and how he traveled between the U.S. and Japan for 18 years.
“That was my Japanese influence and that was a culture that was so rich with tradition, yet so futuristic [with] so much attention to art and detail and discipline and it was fascinating to me,” Gwen explained.
Her appreciation for the culture grew when she visited Harajuku, a district within Shibuya, Japan. “I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it,"” she said. When pressed by the interviewer, who is Asian, Gwen reiterated, “I am,” adding she’s “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.”
Gwen continued, “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 … [It] should be OK to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
Allure noted Gwen’s reps told the magazine they “had misunderstood what Stefani was saying,” but didn’t provide clarification when asked to provide a statement on her comments.
Gwen, who was born to Italian-American and Irish-American parents, has long been accused of cultural appropriation. She came under fire following the release of her 2004 debut album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which contained the single “Harajuku Girls,” and for launching the Harajuku Lovers Tour, where she was backed by four Japanese dancers called the Harajuku Girls.
Gwen has consistently denied she’s appropriating Japanese culture and is instead showing her appreciation of it.
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