BRB – just need to go barf my face off after looking at those hideous shoes. Which ones? ALL OF THEM. Yes, even Gwen Stefani’s; those toe-less tights are giving me major potential shrimp cocktail vibes, and it’s making my stomach feel things.
During a recent interview about her upcoming album, TIME asked Gwen Stefani to go back in time (see what I did there? I know, it was terrible) to 2004 to talk about that time she hired four Japanese girls named Love, Angel, Music, and Baby to silently follow her around in pseudo-geisha makeup and just generally look – to quote Katy Perry – “Japanesy”. At the time, some people thought her culture-humping might be in poor taste, like Margaret Cho, who told us how she REALLY felt by calling Gwen’s Harajuku Girls a “minstrel show“. TIME asked Gwen if she ever regrets the whole Harajuku Girls thing, to which Gwen replied with a strong “NO”, followed by a whole mess of words that basically she wasn’t cultural appropriating, she was cultural appreciating, so the haters can frig off:
“No. There’s always going to be two sides to everything. For me, everything that I did with the Harajuku Girls was just a pure compliment and being a fan. You can’t be a fan of somebody else? Or another culture? Of course you can. Of course you can celebrate other cultures. That’s what Japanese culture and American culture have done. It’s like I say in the song [“Harajuku Girls”]: it’s a ping-pong match. We do something American, they take it and they flip it and make it so Japanese and so cool. And we take it back and go, “Whoa, that’s so cool!” That’s so beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing in the world, how our cultures come together. I don’t feel like I did anything but share that love. You can look at it from a negative point of view if you want to, but get off my cloud. Because, seriously, that was all meant out of love.
And the girls themselves, it was just a magical thing to get to know them. They were dancers that were cast, but they became real. One girl was a Japanese girl that grew up in L.A., and she got to hang around with three different Japanese girls that were from different places in Japan and had different backgrounds. They became best friends, and she got to go to Japan and see her heritage and see how we are all the same. And I got to hang out with girls for the first time.”
Meanwhile, Native Americas were like “We’re just glad she discovered another culture to appropriate and gave us some much-needed time off.”
The Harajuku Girls (whose real names are Maya Chino, Jennifer Kita, Rino Nakasone Razalan, and Mayuko Kitayama, btw) have never come out and said if they ever felt personally victimized by being forced to hang around Gwen Stefani, so who knows whether or not they feel regret for that time in their life. Although if I had to guess, I’m sure they definitely feel deep shame and sadness every time they look at a picture of themselves from 2004 and see a busted Japanese Hot Topic raver baby staring back at them. I mean, I do (pictures of me from 2004 are traaaaaaagic).
And I wish the TIME reporter had followed-up their question by asking Gwen Stefani “Okay, but what about the fact that you paid four teenage-looking girls to hang out with you and pretend to be your friends. THAT’S weird, right?”
Speaking of cultural appreciating, here’s Gwen Stefani looking like a 4th grade Japanese girl’s binder at a Top 5 party for The Voice last night: