Gwen Stefani Defends Herself Against Culture Appropriation Regarding Harajuku Girls


Gwen Stefani’s music catalog from 2004 onward featured a lot of appearances from the Harajuku Girls. Not when it came to the recording of her music but rather promotional events, concerts and all of the singer’s music videos. The four Japanese Harajuku Girls became a staple to Gwen’s aesthetic and in her recent conversation with Billboard for the 15th anniversary of her album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Gwen admitted that she gets defensive when she gets called out for cultural appropriation. 

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“When it first came out, I think people understood that it was an artistic and literal bow down to a culture that I was a superfan of,” she explained. “This album was like a dream. I went in thinking I’m going to make something that could never be possible—me doing a dance record—come true … When the Harajuku Girls came out, it was like, you’re not even real, you’re a dream. It wasn’t like, ‘You’re not real because you’re Asian.’ Are you kidding me? That would be horrifying!”

Gwen first got introduced to the Harajuku Girls when she visited Tokyo at the age of 21. “When I got there and saw how fashion-obsessed they were, I thought they were my people, because my style was so unique,” she said, adding, “I get a little defensive when people [call it culture appropriation], because if we didn’t allow each other to share our cultures, what would we be? You take pride in your culture and have traditions, and then you share them for new things to be created.”


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