Ariana Grande’s tattoo: appreciation or appropriation?

Ariana Grande is an American pop artist, songwriter, and actress that has been on fire in the media due to her current music and upcoming album release. The newly debuted songsThank U, Next,” “Breathinand “7 Rings all achieved a spot in the Billboard Hot 100 and have remained on the charts for weeks, making Grande the youngest female artist to achieve two number one hits. However, Her recent achievements did not save her from her latest scandal, which involved the appropriation of Japanese culture.

  In her newest controversy, Grande commemorated her single “7 Rings” with a tattoo that she believed read the title of the song in Japanese. She posted the now deleted piece on social media platforms and to her surprise, a slew of comments formed saying that the tattoo was incorrect. Twitter user @hey__amo informed to fans that “Ariana Grande’s new tattoo “七輪” means Japanese style bbq grill, not 7 rings.” The two characters independently mean 7 rings, but together, they mean something completely different, and definitely not what she intended. Here’s an example: let’s say that someone wants to get a tattoo of the word therapist. The word itself has one meaning, but if you were to put a space three letters in, it has an entirely new meaning that you probably wouldn’t want to be tattooed. Lesson learned? Never go to the tattoo parlor with Google Translate. Grande tweeted after going back for a session to fix the tattoo saying “Also…. huge fan of tiny bbq grills” and wrote off the entire situation as a joke, believing that it would make the entire situation disappear. The conversation surrounding the controversy, however, has remained.

  Grande has adopted a liking to Japanese culture, using it in her newly released merchandise, social media captions and using it to promote her upcoming album. Many of her fans on social media are offended at the blatant ignorance she has shown in appropriating Japanese culture in her  decision to make it an “aesthetic.” Many fans, both Japanese and international, were taken aback when Grande printed the characters for the Japanese word “arigato,” or “thank you,” on her merchandise, completely commodifying the culture. Grande said in a series of now-deleted tweets replying to angry fans: “There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation,” but it seems to her fanbase that Grande is guilty of appropriating  Japanese culture in order to make her newest era in music “pretty”, and the world should be making their efforts into understanding cultures rather than just looking the part.