Ariana Grande rings in year appropriating Japanese culture

Ariana Grande released her music video for “7 Rings” on Friday, which has been accused of appropriating black culture ever since.

But in her neon pink world of money, friendship and happiness, Grande can be seen appropriating Japanese culture, as well. A video by INSIDER points out the wine and the “kawaii” figurines you see at the beginning of the video.


The pop singer has been vocal about her love of Japanese culture in the past. She speaks Japanese, her vegan diet is Japanese-inspired and she’s had back-and-forth interactions with her beloved singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.  

When your signature look includes cat ears, though, the question of what if will kind of start circulating at some point in your life.

The use of East Asian culture as an aesthetic and pseudo-lifestyle has been around far longer than expected but platforms like Instagram and brands such as Forever 21 and Dolls Kill have just started to push for this image of bad girls with an “Asian” flare within the last few years.

Women can be seen on social media sporting graphic baby tees with Japanese symbols, donning printed dragons on bomber jackets and showing off their fake-until-proven-real tattoos.

It’s the Asian version of the “baddie” look: Some may even know the persona by the term “Asian baby girl.” Alternatively, when cultural appropriation gets appropriated.  

The rise of white women trying to look like “baddies” has long been criticized for its appropriation of black culture. Morgan from the blog Black Power Princess says the areas of the culture that get appropriated “perpetuates negative stereotypes rather than increases racial appreciation.”

“When we see other people snatch and maim our creations and make it profitable, it’s more than a slap in the face,” Morgan writes. “It’s a reminder that whiteness has the ability to co-opt, poison and pollute whenever and however.”

The ABG, or “Asian baby gangster,” highlights an important fact about Asians and their very real capabilities of culturally appropriating blackness and black womanhood.

Either way, it feels counterintuitive to see a white woman like Grande embrace this idea of solidarity between women and then command some type of ownership over an aesthetic that alienates women of color–especially considering how many hail her as a “feminist icon.”

About a month after the internet drama involving her manager pointing fingers at China-based rapper Kris Wu for allegedly using bots to push the “Sweetener” artist off iTunes, Grande teased “Imagine” in a tweet using Chinese characters.  

To be constantly appropriating one Asian culture and then be accused of bashing another definitely sounds off several alarms that clearly ring of xenophobia and racism.

So, sorry, Dangerous Woman: You can love Japanese culture all you want but you can never be an “Asian baby girl.” And Asians, you can never be “gangsters,” no matter how much money or swag you think you have.  

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