Hello Kitty, who’s turning 40 this year, shocked everyone when it was revealed that the popular icon is in fact, a little girl.
In an article featured by the LA Times, Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii studying Hello Kitty, said that Sanrio corrected her when she described Hello Kitty as a cat, emphasizing that “she is a little girl.”
Sanrio, in their website, clearly depicts Hello Kitty as, “a cheerful and happy little girl with a heart of gold. She lives in London with her mama (Mary White), papa (George White), and her twin sister Mimmy. “ She even has a motto, “You can never have too many friends”.
Hello Kitty started in Japan in 1974, the brand was introduced in United States two years later and the rest is history.
According to Yano, its worldwide popularity was partly due to “the blankness of her design”, which gives a certain appeal to different types of people. The “blankness” includes not having a mouth. Although not an official announcement by the Sanrio company, Yuko Yamaguchi, the current official designer of Hello Kitty explained, “It’s so that people who look at her can project their own feelings onto her face, because she has an expressionless face. Kitty looks happy when people are happy. She looks sad when they are sad. For this psychological reason, we thought she shouldn’t be tied to any emotion – and that’s why she doesn’t have a mouth.”
Yano, who is also serving as a curator for the Japanese American National Museum, is preparing an exhibit scheduled on October 11 in Los Angeles. It will showcase Hello Kitty art, merchandise and fashion.