Gwen Stefani Hits Back at Cultural Appropriation Accusations

Gwen Stefani


Gwen Stefani is an award-winning musician and sometimes coach on “The Voice,” but she has been the subject of debate about cultural appropriation. Recently, Stefani received backlash for working with a group of Japanese-American women who she referred to as “Harajuku Girls.” The artist says she doesn’t regret her choice to do that, however.

In an interview with Paper Magazine, Stefani defended herself against the social media backlash she has received over the years. The backlash can be traced back to 2005 and 2006 when Stefani’s “Harajuku Girls” were compared to a minstrel show by comedian Margaret Cho in a blog post. 

“I want to like them, and I want to think they are great, but I am not sure if I can,” Cho wrote in 2005. “I mean, racial stereotypes are really cute sometimes, and I don’t want to bum everyone out by pointing out the minstrel show.”

She later added, “Even though to me, a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface, I am just in acceptance over it because [some representation] is better than nothing. An ugly picture is better than a blank space.”

Harajuku is a district in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, and the location is known as a center for Japanese youth culture and fashion.

Stefani Says She Loves Japan & Would Live There if She Could

Stefani says she has always been inspired by Japan and a “fan” of the country, according to Paper Magazine.

“I never got to have dancers with No Doubt,” the singer told the outlet. “I never got to change costumes. I never got to do all those fun girl things that I always love to do. So I had this idea that I would have a posse of girls – because I never got to hang with girls – and they would be Japanese, Harajuku girls, because those are the girls that I love. Those are my homies.

She added, “That’s where I would be if I had my dream come true, I could go live there and I could go hang out in Harajuku.”

Stefani Believes There Was More “Freedom” When She Was Growing Up

During the interview, Stefani talked about cultural appropriation accusations and the way she thinks blending cultures adds more beauty to the world.

“If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know?” Stefani told Paper Magazine. “We learn from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more.”

She added, “I think we grew up in a time where we didn’t have so many rules. We didn’t have to follow a narrative that was being edited for us through social media, we just had so much more freedom.”

Stefani is currently involved in the wedding planning process to country star Blake Shelton.

Shelton recently spoke with USA Today about the wedding planning process and joked that he hasn’t been involved for a few different reasons.

“If I was picking our meal, it would just literally be everything fried,” Shelton told the outlet. “French fries, chicken tenders, you know, all that stuff. I think she knows that it would be a pretty classless wedding if I was in control.”

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