In a firm correction made by Sanrio to an anthropologist, the very famous character Hello Kitty is not a cat but a British young girl.
Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, was tasked to put up the exhibit for Hello Kitty's tour to Los Angeles. In the written texts for the exhibits, she described Hello Kitty as a cat. However, Sanrio corrected her firmly.
"That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty," Yano told The Los Angeles Times.
Yano, who is a Harvard visiting professor at present, had allotted significant years studying Hello Kitty and its effect to the people. She wrote the book titled "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific." She said she grew up with all Hello Kitty stuff but it was only when she worked for the Los Angeles exhibit that she learnt about the truth behind Hello Kitty's identity.
"And all I have to say is, Mind Blown," she marvelled.
According to Hello Kitty's full back story, her real name is Kitty White and she is the daughter of George White and Mary White. She has a twin sister named Mimmy. And, she has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty.
Hello Kitty is in her third grade and they live outside of London.
Yano explained that the character had such colourful back story because she was created in the 1970's where Japanese started loving the idea of Britain.
"It represented the quintessential idealized childhood, almost like a white picket fence. So the biography was created exactly for the tastes of that time."
Yano said that Hello Kitty's charm is her unreadable features or the blankness of her design due to the fact that she does not have a mouth. With her almost dead pan appearance, fans envisage a range of expressions and make her appealing to the imagination.
In a previous interview with Yuko Yamagochi, the official designer of Hello Kitty, she explained that she does not have a mouth so that people can project their very own feelings onto her face. The mouthless design create the impression that Hello Kitty looks happy when the person holding her is also happy; she will look sad if the person is sad.
"For this psychological reason, we thought she should not be tied to any emotion Yamagochi told The Times.
Hello Kitty was also given the back story of a British girl in London because at the time when she was created, many girls in Japan had read Alice in Wonderland and adored Britain. And most importantly, being born in London gave her a way of differentiating her from other Sanrio characters.
Asked why there do so many adults love Hello Kitty, Yamagochi said that at the time that she was launched, the adults were just children then who could not afford Hello Kitty. These adults started buying her when they were already earning their own money.