Gwen Stefani has received backlash during her career for cultural appropriation. Her response to the issue in a new Allure interview has drawn even more critcism. Stefani, 53, repeatedly asserted she was Japanese during the interview despite being otherwise.
The Voice coach’s interview with Allure was timed for her new vegan beauty line, GXVE Beauty. When the magazine inquired her about Harajuku Lovers, a fragrance line she launched in 2008, despite providing favorable reviews from professionals then and there, it was linked to the debatable visuals of her 2004 album “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”
To honor the Japanese and Japanese American backup dancers who accompanied Gwen Stefani while promoting her record, Allure packaged its fragrance in bottles designed to look like them. When asked what she learned from the backlash Harajuku Lovers faced, Stefani mentioned how her father’s job at Yamaha required him to travel between California and Japan often. (Stefani previously mentioned this story in a Paper Mag interview in 2021.)
When Stefani was younger, her father would regale her with fascinating tales of his trips to Japan. On seeing Tokyo for the first time herself, however, she experienced a sudden epiphany. “I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it,'” Stefani told Allure. “I am, you know.” Stefani claimed there was an “innocence” to her relationship with Japanese culture and she is a “super fan.”
“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 said. “I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture.” She continued to elaborate, adding that it “should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”
Stefani said she also identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx communities because she grew up in Anaheim, California. “The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” Stefani 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?” Stefani also told the magazine multiple times that she is “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.”
Jesa Marie Calaor and Allure’s social media associate were perplexed by Stefani’s comments. Although they initially thought she may have misspoken, the singer stated several times that she was Japanese. Nevertheless, a spokesperson for Stefani later clarified to the magazine that there had been an “unfortunate misunderstanding” on their part. Subsequently, Allure requested if Stefanie would be open to providing further statements or participating in additional interviews; unfortunately however this request was declined by her team.
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