+
upworthy
Celebrity

Gwen Stefani's 'I'm Japanese' comments spark conversation on appropriation vs. appreciation

Creating space to celebrate cultures without appropriating that culture can be a fine line.

Gwen Stefani; Japanese; Allure interview; cultural appropriation; cultural appreciation

Gwen Stefani's comments spark conversation on appropriation.

If you haven't heard the news, Gwen Stefani, the former lead singer of pop rock band No Doubt, made comments in an interview with Allure Magazine that has the entire internet abuzz. Stefani was being interviewed by an Asian American writer Jesa Marie Calaor, who asked about the singer's current view of Harajuku Lovers, a perfume created by Stefani in 2008.

The answer to the question is what got people talking. It seems instead of reflecting on how the naming of the product may not have been appropriate, the singer went into detail about how she is Japanese. Stefani's father is Italian American and her mother is Irish American, while both of those identities are rich in culture, they are not Japanese.

But according to Stefani, hearing stories from her father who often traveled to Harajuku, a fashionable district of Tokyo, when he worked at Yamaha exposed her to Japanese culture. She explained to Allure that upon visiting Harajuku for herself, "I said, 'My God, I'm Japanese and I didn't know it.'" The singer wasn't done, she went on to say, "I am, you know."


There's a thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation that some people blur unintentionally. But it's never appropriate to assume a cultural identity that isn't your own. That's a hard line that most people seem to have a pretty good grasp on. Where things get tricky is when you enjoy a culture that isn't your own and want to partake in parts of that culture because they're fun, colorful or you simply feel connected to it.

There's nothing wrong with that until you pick it up and put it down like a costume. Britannica defines cultural appropriation as something that, "takes place when members of a majority group adopt cultural elements of a minority group in an exploitative, disrespectful, or stereotypical way."

In the context of Stefani, not only did she decide she was Japanese, she profited from stereotypical aspects of the culture without giving proper credit. When appreciating someone else's culture, it requires a thorough understanding of the culture itself and the practices of that culture. If there's an understanding of why things take place in a culture, then you're less likely to do something offensive to that culture.

While Stefani is facing backlash for her comments, it has opened the door for discourse around cultural appropriation and it seems some are still struggling to understand. Twitter user Sachiko Ishikawa brings up the prevalence of some white people thinking what Stefani said was OK while the Asian diaspora is saying how harmful it was.

Even in the article, Calaor called out Stefani's problematic response and how being Asian in America right now can be a frightening experience. Calaor pointed out the racial slurs and the fear of elders being attacked and killed, none of which Stefani has to worry about since her identity as Japanese is a choice.

The singer proclaims in the interview, when talking about her identifying with Latinx communities, "The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity. 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?"

It seems that Stefani wasn't intending to be hurtful during the interview but she also didn't make any corrections when Allure attempted to clarify. So while appreciation was likely the goal, appropriation is what occurred.

Appreciation of culture is being respectful of your approach by educating yourself. If you're doing something that the culture you're borrowing from is made fun of or discriminated against for, then it's not appreciation. When members of the culture someone is borrowing from say something is appropriation, they're not sowing division. They're asking to be respected.

So while the Allure interview sparked a renewed interest in conversations about cultural appropriation versus appreciation, it's up to us to continue learning so the same missteps don't continue to happen.

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.

As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

People admit the one thing that Boomers really got right and some folks are uncomfortable

"You have to force yourself to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable."

A Baby Boomer has some thoughts on emotional resilience.

An overarching Baby Boomer stereotype is that they have a problem with the younger generations, especially Millennials because they were coddled growing up and lack the determination to do hard things.

Many believe that when helicopter parents shelter kids from discomfort, they never develop the emotional resilience that it takes to succeed on their own.

Some may even attribute this to the increase in mental illness.

Keep ReadingShow less

When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?

Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Millennial mom charges her 3 young children rent, sparking debate among parents

Her goal is teach her children how to budget and pay bills “in a safe environment.”

Representative Image From Canva

It's important to teach kids about financial responsibiltiy. But is this too far?

Back in May of 2023, a Texas couple sparked a huge parental debate after saying that they charged their 19-year-old daughter rent after she graduated high school. While some thought it taught responsibility, others felt like they were merely adding another arbitrary obstacle for their child.

Now, if this was the response to a 19-year-old getting charged rent, imagine how folks might feel to hear about it happening to kids under 13.

In a viral TikTok, mom and personal finance influencer Samantha Bird shared that she charged her three elementary school-aged children rent and utilities each month. This method might seem unconventional, but Bird argues that it’s simply a way to learn about money “in a safe environment.”

Keep ReadingShow less
via Dorilee and Sean Lavin (used with permission)

Sean and Dorilee Lavin feel complete.

Dorilee Lavin, 39, was a divorced mother of 3 living in Vermont. When she was ready to find her next relationship, she made a list of characteristics she wanted in her next husband. “I manifested him hard,” Dorilee, 39, told Today.com.

Three days later, she saw a tall, dark-haired man named Sean walking his 2 daughters to school and hoped he was single. “It was the sweetest thing ever, like an image you’d see in a magazine,” she recalled. "They had such a happy energy."

After some research, she discovered that he was single, too. Unfortunately, their paths didn’t cross and the school year was nearing its end. "I never got the chance to connect with him, but the [after-school care] was tired of hearing me talk about him to them," she confessed in a TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photos by Karolina Grabowska and Kanchanachitkhamma via Canva

Traditional calculator and smartphone calculator give different answers

Some people see math and automatically turn off their brains while others can't wait to figure out the problem presented. Math can be anxiety producing for some people but this random discovery of two calculators coming up with different answers to the same problem have people intrigued.

Spellbinding Odyssey shared a short video on X showing someone using a regular Casio calculator you can pick up at any store and the calculator that comes standard on a cellphone. The person in the video enters a simple equation on the cellphone calculator, 50+50x2. Instantaneously, the cellphone calculator displays the answer as 150. It doesn't take a mathematician to second guess that answer though many people might immediately second guess their own assumption that the answer given is incorrect.

On the traditional calculator, the same exact simple equation is entered in the same order, 50+50x2. But there's something weird that happens. The traditional calculator comes up with a completely different answer than the other calculator. This time the answer to the equation is 200, but how?

Keep ReadingShow less