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Gwen Stefani Addresses Accusations of Cultural Appropriation in Relation to Her Harajuku Era

Gwen Stefani, the singer, and judge on the show “The Voice” has addressed accusations of cultural appropriation in relation to her Harajuku era. 

In a recent interview with Allure about her new beauty line, Stefani looked back on her work inspired by Japan’s Harajuku subculture, such as her album in 2004 called Love. Angel. Music. Baby., its track “Harajuku Girls,” and her fragrance line released in 2008 “Harajuku Lovers.”

Stefani stated that it “should be okay to be inspired by other cultures,” and that her inspiration came from her upbringing, her father an Italian-American who worked for the Japanese corporation Yamaha and her mother being Irish-American. 

She further went on to say that she considered herself Japanese. She said, “I’m Japanese.”

“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,” Stefani stated, noting that her father would tell her stories from the beautiful streets of Harajuku.

Stefani Traveled

After learning about Harajuku and its vibrant subculture, Stefani soon traveled to the district to immerse herself in the culture. The district is located in Shibuya, Tokyo and is widely known as a hub of fashion and youth culture. 

With its colorful streets, eclectic fashion and vibrant energy, Harajuku has long been considered a destination for those looking to explore the latest trends and styles in fashion and culture. 

Stefani spent time exploring the area, taking in the sights and sounds, and absorbing the unique energy that makes Harajuku such a special place. 

She was particularly fascinated by the Harajuku girls, known for their unique and elaborate street fashion, and the music and art scenes. Her visit helped to further inspire her music, fashion and art, and she continues to be a keen observer and admirer of Harajuku culture.

“I said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.'” According to Allure, she repeated, “I am, you know.”

She referred to herself as a “super fan” of the culture and stated, “[It] should be okay to be inspired by other cultures because if we’re not allowed then that’s dividing people, right?”

As per Allure report, 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.'”

According to the magazine, a day after the interview with Stefani, a representative for her declined to provide further comment on the record regarding her claims of being Japanese and her inspiration from the Harajuku culture.

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Cultural Appropriation Issue

Stefani, a well-known musician, has faced accusations of cultural appropriation throughout the past decade. 

She has received backlash for her usage of a South Asian bindi, incorporating Latinx aesthetics in her “Luxurious” music video, and wearing dreadlocks in Sean Paul’s “Light My Fire” video. 

Despite the criticism, Stefani has stated in an interview with Allure magazine that she identifies with the Hispanic and Latinx communities due to her upbringing in Anaheim, California.

“The music, the way the girls wore their makeup, the clothes they wore, that was my identity,” Stefani stated. “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?”

Her Journey

Gwen Stefani is a renowned singer, songwriter and actress, known for her distinctive voice and eclectic fashion sense.

Born in Fullerton, California on October 3, 1969, Stefani began her career as the lead vocalist of the band No Doubt in 1986. 

The band released several successful albums in the 1990s and 2000s, including “Tragic Kingdom” and “Rock Steady”, with hit songs such as “Don’t Speak” and “Hella Good.”

After No Doubt went on hiatus in the early 2000s, Stefani embarked on a successful solo career, releasing her debut solo album “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” in 2004, which featured hit singles such as “What You Waiting For?” and “Rich Girl.” 

Since then, she has released several more solo albums, including “The Sweet Escape” and “This is What the Truth Feels Like”, and has collaborated with various artists, including Akon, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton.

Stefani has also made a name for herself as a fashion icon, known for her bold and eclectic style, which often features elements of punk, rock, and pop culture. 

She has served as a coach on the popular singing competition show “The Voice” in multiple seasons and has been a judge on the show.

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Impact on the Industry

Stefani has undoubtedly made a significant impact on the music industry, her unique voice and style has helped to establish her as one of the most popular and successful female artists of her generation. 

The ability to evolve her sound and style and her skills as songwriter and performer have made her a true force in the music scene.

In recent years Stefani continues her music career by releasing new music and by going on tour, her talent and drive continues to make fans love her music and her personality.

Her most recent album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, was released in 2017, which featured holiday-themed covers and original tracks. 

Her fans were overjoyed with the new release, with many praising her for her signature blend of pop and rock, which she brought to the Christmas songs.

In addition to releasing new music, Stefani has also been touring, performing for audiences around the world. 

She embarked on her “Just a Girl” tour in 2018, which was received well by critics and fans alike. 

The tour featured hits from her career with No Doubt, as well as her solo hits. She has recently returned to her role as a coach on the popular singing competition show “The Voice” where her mentoring and her dedication to the artist showcased her skills as a vocal coach.

Photo: Heavy