Of course our girl Sweet M would always go for Disneyland. But the Magic Kingdom with holiday crowds and a new and not-so-great disability access program didn't sound too magical to me.
Where would we find our magic? Turns out it was at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo where the current show is Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty. Our girl was watching the evening news one night and heard about the exhibition, told me about it, and we got organized to go. I'm so glad we did.
|Gown for Lady Gaga made from|
Hello Kitty plush toys.
As we turned the corner into the second to last room of the exhibition, slipping passed the gown for Lady Gaga made of Hello Kitty plush toys, I came upon signage that read:
One of Mr. Tsuji's* passions has always been products that foster "social communication." Thus the "hello" of Hello Kitty carries the meaning of reaching out in friendship. Sanrio's early goods focused on the means of communication— such as stationery, pens, and erasers — each with the cheery visage of Hello Kitty. . . .And then, on the very next wall:
For some Western critics, Hello Kitty's mouthlessness symbolized powerlessness.I had never noticed either, so it's not just a Japanese thing. No mouth! And social communication as the emphasis of the earliest product lines . . . How perfect is it that the Kitty is one of the characters my communication-challenged girl loves most?
But Japanese people understand things differently. They assume Hello Kitty's design to be an abstraction. A typical Japanese comment: "Hello Kitty has no mouth? I never noticed."
And the fact that there was a dress worn by Lady Gaga in the show made this outing even cool enough for her to talk about today, the first day back to school. As you may know from earlier posts here, finding a way to love what she loves and still be cool isn't the easiest thing for this seventeen-year-old Kitty fan. But Hello Kitty works some magic, making her developmentally atypical tastes a moment of cool.
Thank you Kitty-creator Mr. Shintaro Tsuji and exhibition curators Christine Yano and Jamie Rivadeneira! You've made one autie-Kitty-lover and her mom ever so happy.
* Mr. Tsuji is Hello Kitty's creator and the CEO of Sanrio that markets the Kitty's product line.