I’ve been told that if I want to be a stereotypical Asian woman I should have cute charms (preferably featuring cartoon characters or soft toys) dangling from my cellphone and from my bag. If the charms come with a tinkling little bell, even better.
I do none of the above, but I did recently buy a pair of sneakers with Hello Kitty all over it. Hello Kitty is a cartoon cat made by the Japanese company, Sanrio. Hello Kitty was designed by Yuko Shimizu and first appeared on a coin purse in Japan in 1974. For some inexplicable reason, Asian females seem somehow genetically pre-disposed to be attracted to Hello Kitty. Some say it is because Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth and this gives her an enigmatic look. Put Hello Kitty’s image on anything and the product is sure to sell. Hello Kitty is worth about US$5 billion (£3.29 billion) a year to Sanrio.
In Singapore in early 2000, when McDonald’s Singapore launched a range of Hello Kitty plush toys in wedding dresses as their Happy Meal toy, this sparked a Hello Kitty frenzy. People queued for hours before the restaurant opened to get their hands on these Hello Kitty toys. People bought Happy Meals just for the toys and left the food, or even threw the food away. Fights broke out, and 7 people were injured when the crowd broke a McDonald’s glass door while queuing for the toys. This craze for a toy cat makes no sense at all. Singapore has again been gripped by Hello Kitty mania as McDonald’s Singapore was once again selling Hello Kitty toys in June. This time, police were even called in to one McDonald’s restaurant to mediate between two adults arguing over a Hello Kitty toy. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you ever heard?
When I told my friend that I had bought a pair of Hello Kitty shoes, she said, “You are X years old and wearing Hello Kitty shoes?” In my defence I said, “Hey, they make them in my size, OK. So that means it’s not for kids.” And Hello Kitty isn’t just for young children. You can get Hello Kitty car accessories, get married in a Hello Kitty theme wedding or fly with Eva Air on their Hello Kitty airplanes. Some banks also offer Hello Kitty credit cards.
I was really excited to buy a pair of low-rise canvas and rubber Hello Kitty sneakers in my size. I liked them so much, I went back and bought a pair of Mickey Mouse sneakers, but that’s a story for another time. Next month maybe?