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Harajuku Girls

Harajuku girl, used to identify girls who gather in Harajuku district, Tokyo, Japan. Their

costumes is in several different styles of clothing that originated in the culture of

Japan's major cities.

The term is not only monopolized by those who gather in the district themselves, but

has become a relatively popular expression in the United States. Popular use

originated from the American singer Gwen Stefani's 2004 Love.Angel.Music.Baby

album, which brought attention to Stefani's entourage of four supposed "Harajuku

Girls" who were hired to portray the look, three of whom are Japanese and one of

whom is Japanese American. These "Harajuku Girls" are not in fact the fashion

aficionados or the home sewing hobbyists from whence they derive their name.

Harajuku is a popular iconic placed in the

world of entertainment, inside and outside

of Japan. It was said that the girls of

Harajuku are “beauty stars of Japan”. The

American singer Gwen Stefani puts

Harajuku reference in several of her songs

and incorporated four female dancers,

appointed under the name of “love,”

“angel,” “music,” and “baby,” dressed like

girls with Americanised Harajuku, as her

background act.

A song is devoted to them on the album

which she called after them, entitled of the

“Harajuku Girls” and the word “??”

(Harajuku) is depicted on the surface of

stage during her music video for the

Hollaback Girl. In her songs, Stefani mispronounces the word Harajuku. Instead of the

Japanese pronunciation, Stefani spells “hair-ajuku,” although the Japanese

loudspeakers on its album pronounce the word correctly. Her use--which critics call

her appropriation--of Harajuku girls and Harajuku fashion was criticized by a certain

number of Asian-Americans, in particular Margaret Cho, to perpetuate stereotypes of

the flexible Asian women.

According to the Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Blender magazine, American comedian

Margaret Cho has labeled Stefani's Harajuku Girls a "minstrel show" that reinforces

ethnic stereotypes of Asian women. [1]. The Harajuku Girls have continued to appear

alongside Stefani in the media, and are featured in the music video for "Wind It Up"

(2006). If you search the term Harajuku girls in internet, most probably you will find

Gwen Stefani name also as the search results.

Gwen Stefani, singer principal of the pop band No Doubt, has lead Madonna-esque

fashion revolt in both her recent video clip for her single What You Awaiting For and

her solo album Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Its involving in 80’s inspired popish tunes,

platinum blonde hair and Like A Virgin kit outside the art cover of album reinforce her

homage to the material girl, though it can be slightly language in the cheek. In 2006,

Stefani launched a second clothing line, called the “Harajuku lovers,” she said it is

inspired by the zone of Harajuku in Japan. But its her references to the girls of

Japanese Harajuku peppered in all the album and on a way in particular which drew

the interest from a various range of te commentators. However who are these

Harajuku Girls?

The Harajuku District of Tokyo and in particular street of Takeshita, a narrow street

furnished with the stores is the brilliant house for these fashionistas. Since the end of

the Second World War, the “consumerism” and “consumption” are becoming national

past-time for most Japanese and in particular to teenager girls who often live at the

house with their parents well until their twenties. Their free existence of rent provides

them enough funds to gather at Harajuku each weekend, where they transform

themselves into baby doll of Lolita-esque caricatures. Of course it is an extreme-

pretty combination of dressing, but however you will find kind of oase of Japanese

dress besides their ordinary-working-day dress which is everything is very ordered

and conservative.

Various fashion styles is available among the girls who spend time in Harajuku,

including Gothic Lolita, Gothic Maid, Wamono, Decora, Second-Hand Fashion, and

cyber fashion. The Japanese street fashion magazine, FRUiTS, features many of the

varied clothing styles that are popular in the Harajuku district. They wear fake blood

and bandages, and dark outfits often combined with traditional Japanese clothing

(kimonos, fans) and modern Japanese symbols (hello kitties, cell phones, photo

stickers). What drives these girls to dress in such outrageous outfits in a weekly

ceremony that lasts only a few hours? Is there a really great boredom in Japanese

society so this is one of their way to release all of those boredom?

Some of the answers are more immediately visible. For example, we know some of

them are imitating rock bands such as Japan X. However, as with all cultural symbols,

there are likely to be deeper reasons beyond fashion. The weekly play allows them to

temporarily escape, within a group, all of the rules of Japanese society. It gives them

individuality not as easily expressible while in their weekday school uniforms, it gives

them a voice to express, often in very sexual ways (with ripped stockings, garters,

and mini-skirts, etc.), the oppression of the female gender in the largely male

dominated Japanese society.

It is whole kind of a pop-art meets pop-culture meets decadence kinda street where

Western often a t-shirt with a western image like Mickey Mouse can go for several

hundreds of dollars a noise. This constant continuation of rock n roll pop star hip ness

is prolonged with the boys of teenager too. They turn to choose western inspired hip-

hop culture of disheveled jeans hanging halfway to their knees, of the hats to all the

angles on their heads and surely many, many, many of blings.

So often, the net result resembles something out of a comic book of Manga while the

fashionistas of Harajuku compete to look less human and more iconic. Not pay
attention to what we in the west may see like a conflict of fashion above substance,

girls of Harajuku is different to Goths, punks and bond girls which became trends

previously, is not about rebellion to the society. It is just a crazy-extreme-freedom

expression of dressing in certain day (Sunday), free from those ordinary dress which

requires them to dress "politely, nice, and good looking".

Harajuku Girls just like most Japanese, are often extremely polite and happy to pose

for photographs with the curious tourists who flock each Sunday to take the happy

snap of these caricatures of super-model. Just ask them for a photograph nicely, they

will do that happily. And as a gratitude you can offer them something, usually they

won't ask something out of your reach. For the girls of Harajuku, their most extreme

request can be a simple cigarette.

No term corresponding to "Harajuku girl" is currently used in Japan for girls

who frequent Harajuku (known as a center for teen and avant garde fashions;
see Harajuku). The "Harajuku Girls" represent "Stefani's interpretation of
Tokyo street fashion in the Harajuku district".[1]

Stefani has drawn criticism for her use of the Harajuku Girls, who some
commentators see as promoting negative stereotypes of Asian females.
Slanted View

The Harajuku Girls' Poor Taste

by Nathaniel Jue

Halloween came and went like every other autumn. Unlike previous

years, however, there were an abundance of groupings of females,

Asian and non-Asian, costumed as the Harajuku girls, Gwen Stefani's

now-famous four-girl Japanese posse. As a lot of people have come to

learn this summer by watching MTV or reading pop culture magazines,

the Harajuku girls are basically Gwen's bitches. They are a quartet of

Japanese girls who parade alongside Gwen in her videos, public

performances and appearances and promotional interviews. The

fearsome foursome are clad in ultra-Japanese alternative pop garb,

along with the makeup, hairstyles and accessories that are inspired by

the fashion of today's Japanese youth. Gwen admittedly has a Japanese

fetish of sorts, and she claims her entourage is nothing less than

homage to her adoration of modern Japanese pop style.

There has been some ado about whether Gwen is appropriating

Japanese culture by showcasing her Harajuku clan. Gwen has

essentially hired them as her own accessories, shadowing her

wherever she goes. The girls don't speak at all publicly. They simply
strut around in the background of everything that Gwen does, and

pantomime obediently like puppets to Gwen's beats.

Some Asians have found this mastering slightly racist, as Gwen is

viewed as owning four live Japanese dolls. They feel her fixation is

closer to offensive than playful, for she is a step below attaching

leashes and collars on them and ordering them to sit and heel. There is

so much objection to the Harajuku girls that websites have been

constructed pleading the public to help free the girls from their owner.

Many people have a hard time understanding the meaning of the

Harajuku girls. Gwen's humanization of her love for Japanese vogue is

a bit disturbing. To see that the Harajuku Four are mere decoration in

the form of real bodies doesn't sit well with some Asians. If a pop artist

were to have a black version of the Harajuku girls, would there be a

louder cry of racism? Maybe. But because Asians are already seen as

muted introverts who have little placing in America's popular music

culture, the Harajuku girls are simply seen as a fun novelty.

My real concern isn't necessarily the assembling of the Harajuku girls.

My displeasure stems from the fact that these girls are associated with

Gwen Stefani, an overrated pop superstar whose saturation is the real

reason I wince when watching VH1. If I could holla back at her, I'd say,

"Your songs are crap!" Every time I hear her music I want to shove

some b-a-n-a-n-a-s in my ears. The title of her album shouldn't have

been L.A.M.B.; it should be L.A.M.E.

People are focusing on the wrong area of offensiveness. Seeing Asians

on MTV, even as human wallpaper, is a step up from William Hung. I

can't think of the last time there were FOUR Asians in a music video.

The fact that Gwen has more than one "hit" song multiplies the amount

of air time of Asians on TV. I understand their presence is degrading at

times, but at least their construction is categorized as mainstream

cool. Isn't imitation the best form of flattery? While I am bothered by

the significance of the Harajuku girls, I find the silver lining is an

introduction to America of Asian culture.

The real protest out of this whole arrangement isn't the ethnic

lionization of Japanese culture in the form of humans. It's that this

concept of "cool" is linked to Gwen Stefani and her supposed talent.

The Harajuku girls should be in conjunction with someone with real

musicality, someone who is genuinely gifted. I am sure these girls can

distinguish the difference between a bona fide musician and performer

and one who rips off other people's tunes and inundates the

mainstream with poorly constructed song writing. "I ain't no hollaback

girl"? What kind of sentence is that? Isn't that the real travesty in all of

this? I am infinitely more offended by the Asian connection to idiotic

ditties than the establishment of the Harajuku girls itself. I mean if they

were the backup to someone like Ashlee Simpson or Lindsay Lohan

would we really be having this discussion right now? And seeing the

plethora of females, even non-Asian girls, dressed up as Gwen's

women at Halloween isn't insulting, it's just unoriginal and tasteless.

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