Mom Called Out for Cultural Appropriation After Throwing Daughter a Japanese-Themed Birthday
Four years ago, a party-planning mom wrote a blog post detailing the Japanese Tea Party she threw for her daughter Caitlyn’s birthday. The party had tissue paper cherry blossoms, DIY Kimonos, “Asian style” seating, and origami. Caitlin’s party also had “Geisha dress up,” (their words). A photo of Caitlyn just found its way to Tumblr, and users started calling the mom out for cultural appropriation. The party was being torn to shreds until an unlikely defender stepped in.
Tumblr user @ginzers began the thread with a picture of Caitlin and the words, “tell your kids this isn’t okay.”
And that’s when Tumblr users did what they do best.
Tumblr user @cheshireinthemiddle, who claims to be a “Japanese person in Japan right now,” shed some light on how the majority of Japanese people feel about photos like this.
“A vast majority of Japanese people actually enjoy other people making an effort to spread and enjoy Japanese culture, and encourage it. Many make businesses in deliberately taking pictures of people in kimono,” they wrote. “A common omiage (gift) for foreigners from Japanese people is traditional Japanese things such as kimonos, tea sets, shisa dog statues, etc.”
@cheshireinthemiddle goes on to say that Japan gets a lot of its culture from other countries. “Basically 80 percent of Japanese culture, traditions, and food come from other countries.”
They then point out that Japan is also influenced by Korea, Russia, China, and Europe.
“If Japan stuck to itself, there would be no tempura, Japanese tea, tea ceremonies, kabuki, Japanese bread, Japanese curry, j-pop, anime, cars, or modern fishing techniques.”
The user also points out that the picture “is not “yellow face.” They are not making fun of Asians. It looks like they put extra care and research into their work.”
Finally, @cheshireinthemiddle dropped this last little bit in.
“The only reason that you have a problem with this is that little girl is white, and you know that it is acceptable on Tumblr to crap all over white people. The only racist here is you.”
Commenters on the Tumblr thread agreed with @chesireinthemiddle. “As a white dude working in a family owned Thai restaurant, culture needs to be shared in order to be appreciated,” one man wrote. Another said, “Earnest imitation isn’t appropriation. Reducing a culture to marketable stereotypes is.”
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.
(Image: Imgur / Dreamare)