Move Over Harajuku Girl! The Kurogyaru Is the Latest Look Out of Japan

 

Ganguro is one of Tokyo’s most distinct fashion subcultures, which started in the mid-1990s and is well known for some key characteristics: dark tans, bleached hair and dramatic white makeup. Contrary to what some might think, the style originally came about in opposition of the traditional Japanese beauty standard of fair skin, dark hair and a fairly simple makeup look. In order to rebel against this singular idea of beauty, Ganguro decided to express themselves with an extreme style so as to make their message loud and clear that there are other ways to be beautiful. Though the Ganguro look had mostly faded away by the 2000s, a succeeding subculture, Kurogyaru (literal translation: black gals), is keeping the spirit alive and Black Diamond is at the forefront spreading the fashion style all over the world. We caught up with Black Diamond recently and got the scoop directly from them.

 

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Audrey Magazine: What inspired you to form the group, Black Diamond?

Black Diamond: We are all just a bunch of girls who love the Kurogyaru style. Our current manager originally wanted to publish a special edition magazine featuring Kurogyaru fashion, so he tried to bring people together which is how we got involved. Over time, we became a group and now we have more than 150 members in Japan.

AM: Although Ganguro is a trend from the mid-’90s, what made you want to revive it and get into the Kurogyaru style?

BD: As a group, our goal is to spread the Kurogyaru style. Ganguro has completely faded out and now Kurogyaru is a newer evolution of that subculture. We noticed that there aren’t many people dressing in this way, so we want to inspire people to enjoy Kurogyaru.

AM: What is the difference between Ganguro and Kurogyaru style?

BD: Ganguro is also known for the tanned skin, but other than that, we would say the styles are completely different. Ganguro makeup tends to be like heavy and white makeup around the eyes, but Kurogyaru is a lot more colorful. We have a more modern way of doing our makeup and hair, as well as clothing style.

 

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AM: What are your thoughts on the traditional Asian beauty standard of porcelain skin?

BD: We think that there’s nothing wrong with liking pale skin. We just happen to prefer darker skin and we hope people can see the beauty in that, too.

AM: So from your perspective, what is beauty?

BD: Beauty is … flashiness? Flashy hair, flashy clothes, flashy makeup, flashy nails? [Laughs] Beauty is dark skin and flashiness.

AM: How do you accomplish your daily look? How long does it take?

BD: Well, for makeup, we do it everyday obviously. [Laughs] Our outfits depend on our moods and the weather. Like today, Harutama (the one with blue hair) and Rise (the one with pink hair) coordinated together and did their hair like the popular Japanese characters Kiki and Lala [Little Twin Stars]. It really depends on each person, but on average, it takes us about one to two hours to get ready everyday.

AM: What is a must-have Kurogyaru item?

BD: A tanning bed. [Laughs] False eyelashes? Actually if we don’t have everything, the look just isn’t right. Every item is a must-have. [Laughs]

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AM: Black Diamond not only has members in Japan but overseas as well. How has your group grown internationally?

BD: The Internet. People saw and heard about us from the Internet and many people wanted to join our group from their home countries, so we have many subgroups in different regions of Japan and also in various parts of the world.

AM: Can you tell us about your ongoing or upcoming projects?

BD: We are working on starting our own clothing line. One of our greatest motivations is that there are many foreigners who are into Kurogyaru style and they cannot easily get the clothes or the right sizes, so we want to make our line more accessible for Kurogyaru fans internationally.

Kurogyaru are also known for their “para para” style of dancing. Check it out here:

 

 

For more information on Black Diamond, you can check out their Facebook page here.
–Story and photos by Mai Nguyen.

Forget Surgery, Japan’s New App Makes You “Sexier” Instantly

 

We obviously live in a beauty-obsessed society. Diet tips, weight loss and surgery stories constantly make their way onto my newsfeed on a day-to-day basis. It’s tragic really — the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their ideal standard of beauty. Not to mention the financial costs of a little nip and tuck these days.

But we also have to remember that we are living in the digital age. There is an app for just about everything now, because who has time for anything that requires actual effort these days?

The latest of these apps includes Japan’s new “Spring App,” that will slim you down and lengthen your legs instantly, courtesy of Japan-based developer Kim Taewan. You can literally alter your body in just a few, brief motions. It’s so easy that it makes surgery and even photoshop look old-school.

According to Daily Mail, the app’s goal is to “help you adjust your body proportions, by overlaying lines onto the hips, shoulders and ankles to a more ‘appealing’ size.” The app asks users to pinpoint two to three spots on their body which they would like stretched.

 

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Photo courtesy of Elite Daily

 

 

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Photo Courtesy of Elite Daily

 

Since its recent release on July 21, it has already received glowing reviews on iTunes. One user wrote, “Just so easy to make you look much taller and thinner! Well I love it so much.”

What do you think? Let us know!

 

Watch Out Hello Kitty — Pikachu Pop-Up Café Is Moving In (For Now)

 

Japan is clearly the go-to destination for all things cute. In the past, we brought you Little Twin Stars and My Melody-themed cafés in Japan, where you can eat the world’s most adorably shaped foods. And of course by now, you probably already know about Sanrio’s Hello Kitty café that has now expanded its stores worldwide. But obviously, the cartoon-themed café trend isn’t complete without everyone’s favorite yellow rodent — Pikachu. Hence, a Pikachu pop-up café made its debut in downtown Tokyo, Japan on July 19, shortly after the release of Pokémon the Movie XY, a Japanese anime film. In addition to purchasing adorable Pokémon-themed food and beverages at the café, you can also purchase Pokémon postcards, T-shirts and more.

Even though the franchise is now 20 years old, die-hard fans (surprisingly, mostly adults!) still go the distance to stand in long lines, eagerly waiting for their Pikachu-shaped meals. The pop-up café ends on August 31, so Pokémon fans, get moving!

Here are some of the café’s most appetizing dishes!

 

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Photos courtesy of Kotaku

 

Japanese School Girls Turn Innocent Game of Tag Into Badass Parkour

 

When this video began popping up everywhere, I was confused. How could a pair of Japanese school girls get more than a million views on YouTube in just a few days?

The video starts off innocently enough. The girls are playing and chasing each other around school. Suddenly, one jumps over a trash can and begins flipping in the hallway. Well, that was unexpected … WOAH, did she just jump off a building!?

Before you know it, an innocent chase between two young school girls becomes an epic show of parkour skills.

 

 

As it turns out, one of the girls, Fuka Yoshino, is a professional kickboxer and athlete. They certainly had me fooled there. The video keeps viewers impressed and entertained the entire time. Now I wonder why it doesn’t have even more views.

At the very end of the video, the girls playfully open up a bottle of a citrus soft drink called C.C. Lemon. Yup, it turns out this incredibly epic video is just an ad for a beverage.

 

 

 

 

Korean Golfer Ignores Suggestion to Get Plastic Surgery, Wins 16 Golf Tournaments Instead

We’ve all heard stories of models and actresses who have to deal with the sometimes unattainable expectation to be beautiful all the time, but now it appears that this expectation of beauty is expanding to the sports world. Apparently, even some athletes are now facing the pressure to be beautiful. At least that’s what it seems to be in the case of 26-year-old Korean golfer, Ahn Sun-ju.

After winning 16 tournaments and accruing nearly $5 million in prize money since 2010, Ahn has climbed her way upward and has become the top female golfer in Japan. Clearly, this is an extraordinary achievement, but it left sports columnist Lee Young-mi with questions. Namely, why was she not striving to be the best golfer in Korea?

Unfortunately, her responses to his interview questions were disheartening to say the least. Simply put, her physical appearance held her back.

“Some (potential Korean) sponsors even demanded I get plastic surgery,” she said in the article. “Companies did not consider me as a golf athlete, only that I was a woman. It mattered most to them was whether my appearance was marketable [sic]. I was deeply hurt by that.”

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The Korea Times points out that she won six tournaments in Korea, but still struggled to find a corporate sponsor. Is it really because she wasn’t pretty enough? She thinks so. During the interview, Ahn acknowledged that she doesn’t fit the stereotypical definition of “sexy” (why does that even matter?) but would not let that hinder her from playing golf. Instead, she turned to Japan.

“Japanese companies, on the other hand, focused on my ability as a golfer,” Ahn explained. “They are more concerned about my performance and how I treat my fans. I am being sponsored by six Japanese companies, including a clothing brand.”

Can we say for certain that Ahn’s decision to move to JLPGA was due to Korea’s inability to accept her physical appearance? Absolutely not. She may have just dealt with a sour company’s opinion and we certainly shouldn’t assume that the KLPGA puts those expectations on their players.

What we do know is that Ahn endured a horrible experience of someone telling her she wasn’t pretty enough. What’s even worse is the realization that we, too — sometimes not even aware of it — are told the same thing.

Many of us, especially women, are pressured on a daily basis as hundreds of advertisements tell us there’s room for improvement. That of course confirms the message we’ve grown up with our entire lives: we’re never enough and our imperfections need to be fixed. The pressure to be beautiful certainly occurs worldwide, but some countries, such as Korea, have begun to build a reputation for beauty, a reputation maybe they feel they must keep. Many people have now correlated Korea’s high beauty standards to their equally high plastic surgery rates. After all, how else is one supposed to keep up with such extreme pressure and expectations?

We may never know the details behind Ahn Sun-ju’s unfortunate experience. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that we admire her. She quickly understood that her worth was measured in her talent, not in her external beauty. Besides, last we checked, beauty never won golf tournaments. Good for you, girl.

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(Source)

This Japanese Dessert Looks Just Like A Giant Water Drop

This Japanese dessert has recently gained quite a bit of viral fame. After all, who wouldn’t be intrigued by a cake that looks just like a drop of water?

This intriguing dessert is called Mizu Shingen Mochi and can be translated to water shingen mochi. As the name indicates, this dessert is actually a variation of a traditional “shingen mochi” rice cake. The consistency is said to be similar to soft and sticky mochi.

The rare dessert is created using water from the Southern Japanese Alps and is served with kinako soybean powder and brown sugar syrup.  The water is apparently solidified into a solid shape, but feels like it can break with just a poke. Apparently, the cake will melt like water in your mouth, but is extremely tasty. The cake is so delicate that if it is not consumed in 30 minutes, it will melt away.

By now, you’re probably itching to get your hands on one of these. Unfortunately, mizu shingen mochi are exclusively produced by the Kinseiken Seika Company and only available in two locations in Japan:

Kinseiken Daigahara shop:
Address: 2211 Daigahara, Hakushucho, Hokutoshi, Yamanashi 408-0312
Tel: +81-551-35-2246
Open: 9a.m. to 6p.m.
Closed: Thursdays

 
Kinseiken Nirasaki shop:
Address: 154 Kotagawa, Nakadamachi, Nirasakishi, Yamanashi 407-0262
Tel: +81-551-25-3990
Open: 9a.m. to 6p.m.
No scheduled holidays

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(Source 1, 2)

Who Needs Surgery? Japanese Breast Enlargement Cookies

Come on, we’ve all thought about it. Which flat-chested girl hasn’t looked in the mirror and secretly wished to go up a cup size or two, and perhaps for just even a millisecond, toyed with the idea of breast implant surgery? Surgery however, as we all know, is obviously not the most practical solution. Not only is the cost of the surgery itself ridiculous (price ranges between $5,000 to $10,000), but complications from the surgery include asymmetry, deflation and inflammation. Lets face it– nobody wants to risk that!

A Japanese company has come up with a new solution: breast enlargement cookies. No, you don’t need new glasses — you read that absolutely right. These 70 calorie “F-Cup Herbal Cookies” (F-Cup in Japan is roughly the equivalent of a double D in the US) promise their customers a quick and easy alternative to surgery for breast enlargement, at just $25. The cookies also come in two appetizing flavors: Soymilk or pralines and chocolate. Oh, and what is this miracle ingredient in the cookie you ask? An extract of Pueraria Mirifica, a plant in Northeastern Thailand that contains Miroesterol, a form of estrogen that has been known to help with breast development.

So far, there has been no evidence of this product actually doing its purpose – yet they are extremely popular in Japan, as well as in the US. In fact, according to the F-cup Cookie website, they are currently sold out! Other breast enhancement products on their website also include breast cream, capsules, and “bust up gum.”

So, what do you think? Ready to replace your midnight snack with a nice warm cup of tea, with a breast enlarging cookie on the side?

THE ULTIMATE SUSHI GUIDE: Everything You Need To Know About Japan’s Most Iconic Food


History of Sushi

Over 2000 years ago, the first sushi was created. Of course, it was quite different back then. The original “sushi” was created in Southeast Asia simply as a way to preserve fish in fermented rice. The process of creating this original sushi, called narezushi, involved having salted fish wrapped in fermented rice for months and the rice would be thrown out when the fish was consumed.

When this became popular in Japan, the Japanese created a new dish, namanare, which involved eating both the fish and rice. The fish was consumed before it changed flavor.

Finally, a third type of sushi was created. Haya-zushi is the form of sushi we are most familiar with. The fish and rice was assembled to be eaten at the same time and the rice was not being used for fermentation.

Our modern sushi was created by Hanaya Yohei as an early form of fast food.

 


 

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Proper Way To Eat Sushi

1) Do not rub wooden chopsticks together before use. This may insult your host by saying their chopsticks are cheap.
2) Don’t feel pressured to use your chopsticks. It is also common to eat sushi using your hands. 
3) Sushi is meant to be consumed in one bite.
4) Only a light amount of soy sauce should be used. Otherwise you may insult the chef by indicating that the sushi did not have enough flavor.
5) The fish portion of the sushi should be dipped into the soy sauce and your sushi is consumed “rice up.”
6) Although popular in America, wasabi is not supposed to be mixed into the soy sauce.
7) Use the back end of your chopsticks to grab sushi from a communal plate.
8) Do not place the ginger on your sushi pieces. Ginger is meant to be eaten between different pieces of sushi to cleanse your palette for the next taste.

 


 

Different Types of Sushi
Maki (1)
Makizushi
Cylinder-shaped sushi that is rolled up with a bamboo matt and typically wrapped in nori (dried seaweed) and cut into pieces. There was various types of Makizuki depending on the ingredients inside as well as the size of the roll.
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Temaki
Another form of Makizuki, but it doesn’t quite look like the other variations. Instead of a cylinder shape, it is created with nori in a cone shape and stuffed with ingredients.
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Uramaki
Uramaki is a Western-style of sushi which has rice on the outside and nori/other ingredients on the inside. This was created in the United States as a way of visually hiding the seaweed.

 

 

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Nigirizushi
Nigiri is hand formed. It is a mound of rice with a slice of fish/seafood placed on top.
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Shashimi
Raw fish served without rice.
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Gunkanmaki
An oval mound of rice wrapped in nori and topped with soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient. 

 



jiro
“World’s Best Sushi Restaurant”
Tokyo’s famed restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro is said to have the best sushi in the world. The restaurant is owned and operated by 88-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono who is the very first sushi chef in the world to receive three Michelin stars. The sushi gathered so much attention that it became the focus of a 2011 documentary called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

Reservations must be made months in advance and customers must be prepared to dish out quite a bit of money. The 20-course “Chef’s Recommended Special Course” is about $300. While that’s a lot of money for one meal, customers always seem satisfied. They argue that the meal is an experience and an art.


 

Chopsticks Tutorial 

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(source)


 

DIY Sushi Plush/Pillow

18 of Asia’s Most Bizarre Products & Trends

Everyday, it seems as if we come across products, trends and even holidays from Asia that gets us quite confused. From fuzzy-hair stockings to an actual single awareness day, Asia never seems short of these bizarre creations. Check out our list of 18 of Asia’s Most Bizarre Products & Trends below. Weird or awesome? You be the judge.


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1) The “Liberation Wrapper”
“For years, Japanese culture has encouraged women to strive for “ochobo” which is described as small and modest mouths… [The liberation wrapper] is a large burger wrapper with the image of a women’s face. The wrapper is meant to hide women as they take a big bite of their burger and maintain the appearance of ochobo.” Read the full story here.


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2) Finger Trap Beauty Test
“The concept is simple: Touch the side of your index finger to both the tip of your nose and your chin. If your lips don’t touch your finger, congratulations! You’re pretty! If they do, well, er … there’s always Photoshop?” Read the full story here. 


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3) Surgical Masks
“Apparently, there are 5 main reasons for the popular mask trend: for health purposes, to avoid social awkwardness, for warmth, for the lazy and in the name of fashion.” Read the full story here. 


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4) Black Day: Korea’s Single Awareness Day 
“As you may have guessed, Black Day is practically the opposite of [Valentine's Day and White Day]. This is a day is for those who did not receive gifts on Valentines Day or White Day. Yup, this unofficial holiday is for single people.” Read the full story here. 


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5) Double Eyelid Training Glasses
“The glasses are a non-surgical option to create the illusion of a double eyelid. The Eyelid Trainer is worn like any other pair of glasses. Apparently, 5 minutes a day with this contraption will give you the double eyelids you desire. ” Read full story here. 


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6) Tokyo Street Fashion 
“While many people find popular Japanese fashion styles such as Harajuku and Lolita confusing, New York-based photographer Thomas C. Card was intrigued by the street fashion that he spent months in Japan to document the various styles.” Read the full story here. 


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7) Edible iPhone Case
“The Survival Senbei Rice Cracker iPhone 5 Cover is handmade by “Mariko” using only brown rice and salt. For $64, you can have a phone cover that doubles as a tasty snack in case of an emergency.” Read the full story here. 


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8) Cosplay Graduation
“But the Kanazawa College of Art is not like other colleges. Graduates are apparently allowed to wear absolutely whatever they would like. So what happens when Japanese students have no dresscode for graduation? Some of the best cosplay ever.” Read the full story here.


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9) The Virtual Girlfriend
“Thousands of men and women of all ages have been captivated by this real life dating simulator which offers three girlfriends to choose from– Rinko, Nene and Manaka. All of the choices have different backstories and adjustable personalities.” Read the full story here. 


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10) The World’s Longest Kiss
“The world’s longest kiss lasted a whomping 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds. The record was set by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat during an event organized by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in Thailand. The annual kissathon competition happens during, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day.” Read the full story here. 


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11) Snail Facials 
“Although some of us may see snails as pesky and slimy or even a delicious delicacy, Japan is definitely transforming the use of these creatures and women are paying a pretty big price for this treatment. One session costs approximately 10,500 Yen, which is about $107.” Read the full story here. 


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12) Sex Ed For 30-Year-Olds 
“The tutorials cost more than $400, but women have been lining up to learn and lessons are booked weeks in advance. Many of these students are 30- to 40-year-olds seeking to decrease the anxiety before their first sexual encounter.” Read the full story here. 


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13) The “True Love” Bra
“Makers are claiming that the bra is able to analyze how a woman truly feels and will only pop open when the user finds her true love. The lingerie company is marketing the bra as a safety device. Apparently, the bra will ward off unwanted sexual advances and will make sure that all people, except your true love, will not have access to your breasts.” Read the full story here.


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14) The Study Cube
“Last year, South Korea’s environmentally-friendly furniture manufacturer Emok unveiled the Study Cube, a wooden box just big enough to seat one person in front of a built-in desk. The box comes with a bookshelf, whiteboard, LED light, outlet and ventilation grill. There’s even a massage bar under the desk that also serves as a footrest.” Read the full story here.


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15) Strange Asian Hairdos
“Whether its creepy, funny, or just intriguing to look at, all of these hairstyles are undeniably strange. Although strange hairdos are certainly not something people are born with, a quick google search of “strange Asian hair” is enough to let us know that this is a pretty common search.” Read the full story here.


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16) Anti-Rape Stockings
“The most recent fashion creation from China are hairy-leg stockings designed to ward off men and decrease the possibility of rape. The theory behind this creation is that the male will be so disgusted with the appearance of your legs that you don’t have to worry– they wouldn’t want to have a sexual encounter with you anyway.” Read the full story here


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17) Plastic Surgery Television Shows
“The purpose of this show is to “help those with special circumstances or people who are too ugly to feel confident in their life.” The participant facing “special circumstances” will have their plastic surgery sponsored by the television program and audiences follow along during the transformation.” Read the full story here.


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18) New Elementary Desks 
“Wuhan City, China has introduced these bars into an elementary school’s first grade classroom. Each bar is drilled into the wooden tables of school children in an effort to preserve the eyesight of the students.” Read the full story here. 

Why People Hate “Hello Kitty” by Avril Lavigne

Yesterday, Avril Lavigne released the music video to her new single “Hello Kitty” on YouTube, but in a blink of an eye it was removed. Billboard called the video an “embarrassment in any language”  and Entertainment Weekly claimed that there “are serious questions about whether it’s offensive.”

Why?

Well it may have a thing or two to do with all the cultural appropriation. Lavigne’s video includes all things stereotypically Japanese — sushi, Japanese schoolgirls, bright pink colors and even expressionless Asian back up dancers. Throughout the video, Lavigne throws out Japanese words like “arigato” and “kawaii.” That’s right. Her lyrics are actually “Thank you! Cute! Cute!”  Apparently, there’s no need to have lyrics that make sense as long as you blurt out the most stereotypical Asian words you know.

As you can expect, audiences are torn. Loyal Avril fans have stood by her side and see nothing wrong with the video. Fans on her official website are claiming that “Hello Kitty” is far from offensive. In fact, they believe that the video should be praised for “doing something different.”

Of course, even more people are arguing that Lavigne’s cultural appropriation is far from new and different. We saw this with Gwen Stafani’s “Harajuku Girls,” with Katy Perry’s Geisha performance and especially in Alison Gold’s infamous “Chinese Food” video.

For loyal fans who are confused, the reason people hate Avril’s “Hello Kitty” is because it uses Asian culture as a prop. Even the expressionless back up dancers are simply a backdrop. There is a very big difference between embracing a culture and using it as an accessory. It is not appreciation to trivialize an entire way of life.

As Huffington Post explains, “Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.”

The video was removed from YouTube, but check it out here and tell us what you think.