Gwen Stefani Says She's "Japanese" And "Didn't Know It"—Except She Was Born In Fullerton, California To European Parents

Gwen Stefani has finally addressed the backlash she's been receiving for "culturally appropriating" Japanese culture. In her awkward interview with Allure, she claims that she’s Japanese – except she's not.

By Nicole Dominique2 min read
Gwen Stefani

In 2004, Gwen Stefani released her debut album titled Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which featured colorful Harajuku aesthetics. In 2008, she launched her fragrance "Harajuku Lovers." She's also traveled with Japanese backup dancers to accompany her in her shows and music videos. Ever since then, Stefani has been widely accused of "cultural appropriation." 

On January 10, Allure released their interview with the No Doubt member, in which she details the inspiration behind her work. "That was my Japanese influence and that was a culture that was so rich with tradition, yet so futuristic [with] so much attention to art and detail and discipline, and it was fascinating to me," she says, explaining how her Italian-American father would tell her stories of Japan. When she was an adult, she visited the country and came across Harajuku girls herself. Stefani then makes this odd claim: "I said, 'My God, I'm Japanese, and I didn't know it.'" 

There was silence between the 53-year-old and the interviewer, until the "Hollaback Girl" singer doubled down: "I am, you know." She also added that she was a little bit of an “Orange County” girl and a little bit of an “English girl” in addition to being Japanese.

As stated by the writer, Jesa Marie Calaor, “During our interview, Stefani asserted twice that she was Japanese and once that she was ‘a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, a little bit of an English girl.’ (A representative for Stefani reached out the next day, indicating that I had misunderstood what Stefani was trying to convey. Allure later asked Stefani’s team for an on-the-record comment or clarification of these remarks, and they declined to provide a statement or participate in a follow-up interview.).”

The self-described "super fan" of Japan continues to defend her love for the culture. "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 tells the interviewer. "I think it was a beautiful time of creativity… a time of the ping-pong match between Harajuku culture and American culture."

She added, "[It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we're not allowed then that's dividing people, right?"

Gwen Stefani was born on October 3, 1969, in Fullerton, California. Her mother, Patti, is Irish-American, while her father, Dennis, is Italian-American. He worked as a marketing executive for Yamaha – which explains his many visits to Japan and Stefani's love for the culture.

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