Singer and reality TV star Gwen Stefani put her foot in her mouth in a January 2023 interview in Allure, claiming she is Japanese. So what exactly did Mrs. Blake Shelton mean by this comment? And what's her heritage?
Let’s meet the star’s parents, and dive deeper into the cringey controversy surrounding Gwen’s claims about being Japanese, as well as what fans and a famous TV personality are saying in the wake of the scandal.
So, who are Gwen Stefani’s parents?
The coach from The Voice was born in California in 1969 to Dennis and Patti Stefani. Gwen’s parents are Italian-American and Irish-American. Patti worked as an accountant and Dennis worked at Yamaha, traveling from Japan to the Golden State over the course of his 18-year tenure with the company. Gwen shared a story about how her dad exposed her to Japanese culture with an Allure writer who describes herself as “first-generation Filipina American.”
"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 recalled, adding about her own visit to Japan, "I said, 'My God, I'm Japanese and I didn't know it.'”
Gwen’s Stefani’s claim to be Japanese quickly went viral.
This is far from the first instance of Gwen stepping in it with regards to her ties to Japanese culture. In 2004 when her album “Love.Angel.Music.Baby.” was released, and then in 2008 when fans were introduced to her Harajuku Lovers beauty and clothing brands, accusations of cultural appropriation followed.
In 2021, the star defended herself against such allegations, telling Paper, "We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more.”
In her Allure interview, the California native echoed a similar sentiment, noting, "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,” adding that such a notion divides people.
The interviewer meanwhile was careful to tell readers, “I don’t believe [she] was trying to be malicious or hurtful in making these statements.” Still, she added, “But words don’t have to be hostile in their intent in order to potentially cause harm, and my colleague and I walked away from that half hour unsettled.” The writer wasn’t the only person to question Gwen’s words.
Fans flocked to Twitter to share reactions to Gwen’s comments about being Japanese.
Over on Twitter, folks had a lot to say after the interview was published, with many expressing disbelief that Gwen wasn’t aware of how tone deaf her comments seemed. She had a few defenders, of course, one of whom is a famous TV personality. More on that in a moment. First, consider a small sampling of what Twitter was buzzing about upon Gwen’s interview going viral.
Fomerly-scandal plagued herself, Megyn Kelly came to Gwen’s defense during her Sirius XM show, taking the angle of comparing the singer’s comments to those of Alec Baldwin’s wife Hilaria around being Spanish, per the New York Post.
“Gwen Stefani clearly didn’t try to misrepresent that she’s in fact Japanese. She was saying… obviously the implication was, ‘In my soul, I connected with these people and their culture’ and how beautiful it was,” the former Fox News host opined. “That is a compliment, you dumba-- Allure writer. It isn't a Hilaria Baldwin situation, where she claims she’s from Spain, and she’s not. Anyway, I think it’s funny.”