Title: Japanese Kawaii Culture and Hello Kitty as an Identity Marker for Asian-American Women
Stream: Cultural Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Harper Sigafoos, University of Memphis, United States
This thesis examines the character of Hello Kitty, from its creation, to its enduring cultural presence in Japan. In particular, this thesis notes the character's highly successful marketing among Asian-American women. Hello Kitty epitomizes the concept of kawaii, the Japanese word for cute. But, its symbolism does not end there. Looking at the history of the Sanrio company and its adaptive marketing strategy offers a starting point for understanding what Hello Kitty means, but does not answer what Hello Kitty means to Asian-American women. By using both quantitative and qualitative data, this thesis establishes the consumption demographic and explores the reception of Hello Kitty among Asian-American women. This thesis challenges the dominant argument that Hello Kitty is a sexist and infantilizing image and argues instead that the character serves as an important icon for Asian-American women's identity as transnational women and their Asian heritage.
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