After sharing a picture of her daughter’s Geisha-themed birthday party, a mother was immediately attacked for being “racist” and appropriating Japanese culture. However, just as things got heated, a Japanese citizen stepped in.
While other little girls spend the day being treated like fairytale princesses, one innocent child’s dream birthday soon turned into a nightmare. After hours of carefully planning, gathering materials, and creating detailed decorations, a single photo of the celebration instantly sparked outrage, prompting social media users to attack the girl’s mother for being a racist.
From her personal blog “The Gala Gals,” a woman known only as Heidi proudly posted a picture of her young daughter’s birthday extravaganza, which soon made its way to Tumblr. The child had wanted a Japanese-themed party in which she dressed in a floral kimono and painted her face white to resemble a traditional Geisha.
Unsurprisingly, as soon as the internet noticed that a white girl was indulging in Japanese customs and culture, complete strangers took to their keyboards to berate and scold Heidi. Confidently labeling her a “racist” who shouldn’t be raising children, Tumblr users insisted that white people must refrain from “cultural appropriation,” according to Huffington Post.
“Teach children this is not ok,” user ‘ginzers’ wrote.
Comments continued to pour in, assuming the worst about Heidi and accusing her of having her daughter participate in “yellow face,” which entails non-Asians altering their physical appearance to emulate Asians. When another individual jumped in to defend Heidi’s decision, the initial commenter doubled down on their assertion.
“I’m really not understanding why you think cultural appropriation would be ok, unless you are assuming that the girl in the picture is part Japanese,” ginzers replied. “The makeup is clearly reflective of traditional Geisha makeup which is yellowface and therefore racist. Furthermore, the girl is wearing a kimono, a garment that has for ages carried cultural significance. Assuming that she is white how can you think this is ok?”
For several comments, the discourse seemed to be favoring Heidi’s accuser, making it appear as though the doting mother was guilty of some unconscious bias. However, just as accusations mounted, a user who claims to be a Japanese citizen stepped in to deliver the final judgment on the issue.
According to Tumblr user “cheshireinthemiddle,” the majority of Japanese “actually enjoy other people making an effort to spread and enjoy Japanese culture, and encourage it.” The user then turned the accusation back on ginzers, adding that the only reason they are attacking the mother is that the “little girl is white” and telling them that “the only racist here is you.”
“I am Japanese, in Japan at this very moment. The only people who think culture shouldn’t be shared are racists like you,” user “cheshireinthemiddle” wrote. “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. A common omiage (gift) for foreigners from japanese people is traditional japanese things such as kimonos, tea seats, shisa dog statues, ect (sic).”
Cheshireinthemiddle sought to “educate” ginzers, reminding them that if Japan took their advice on cultural appropriation, “there would be no tempura, Japanese tea, tea ceremonies, kabuki,” or many other aspects of Japanese culture that were incorporated from other civilizations.
The user then delivered the final blow to everyone accusing Heidi of racism, reiterating that the child and her mother are clearly being respectful of Japanese traditions, which is highly encouraged.
“The picture is not ‘yellow face’ they are not making fun of asians. In fact, it looks like they put extra care and research into their work,” the user concluded. “The only reason that you have a problem with this is because 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.”
After being called out for their own racist assumptions, ginzers fell silent. However, another user, who also claims to be Japanese, came forward to break the silence and validate the previous response.
“This party is an attempt at experiencing and appreciating another culture,” user ‘littleblackchat’ wrote. “The mom who put this together is not an expert on Japan, but she did her best. She got a lot of things right: there are few things Japan loves more than tea, Pocky, and sakura.”
The user then raised a crucial point in the cultural appropriation debate. They asked to what extent should cultures be segregated, giving examples of this extreme.
“Where do you draw the line for who is ‘allowed’ to learn about Japan? If the girl were of Japanese descent, would that make it OK? If one of the girl’s parents were from Japan, then would it be OK? Are you only allowed to make pizza if you live in Italy? If you’re an Italian immigrant? How do we decide these things?”
Political correctness has become so unhinged that even those who wish to pay tribute to a culture they love and respect are labeled racist for doing so. Sadly, this is how progress dies. Nothing positive can be gained for humanity from keeping admirable aspects of certain cultures completely separate.
Fortunately, those who labeled the girl and her mother racists for admiring Japanese traditions were put in their place by those most qualified to speak about the feelings of Japanese people when it comes to cultural appropriation. It’s segregationists who want to keep every culture divided who are the true racists.