Hello Kitty Isn't Exactly a Cat

Her name is Kitty White and she's a 3rd-grader from outside London
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2014 8:29 AM CDT
Updated Aug 28, 2014 11:25 AM CDT
Wait, You Thought Hello Kitty Was a Cat?
Hello Kitty - I Love Japan   (Photo: Business Wire)

(Newser) – She may sport what appear to be whisker lines across her expressionless face, but the iconic Hello Kitty may not be a cat. In fact, the cartoon character created 40 years ago has a whole backstory that will soon be on display at an exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in LA, reports the Los Angeles Times in an interview with one of the curators. For starters, Kitty White is her proper name, she's a third-grade girl from outside of London, she has a twin sister (they're Scorpios), she loves apple pie, and she has a pet cat named Charmmy Kitty. And oh yeah, she's not (exactly) a cat. The revelation, which has since been walked back a bit, made headlines:

  • Writes the LA Times' Carolina Miranda in her own report, "I grew up with Hello Kitty everything and all I have to say is, MIND BLOWN."
  • Over at the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri sums up typical reaction: "If you were wondering whether everything is a lie, the answer is: yes. Everything is a lie."

Hello Kitty creator Sanrio confirmed the news to an incredulous Time reporter and included her official bio, which features this gem: "As tall as five apples, and as heavy as three, Hello Kitty is a bright little girl with a heart of gold." But after the uproar, the story changed a bit:

  • RocketNews24 called Sanrio's PR department, and the person who answered said, "We never said she was a human," explaining that she's a "personification or anthropomorphization"—not quite human, but also not quite cat.
  • Kotaku got a similar response from Sanrio's Tokyo HQ: "Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat. It's going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Hello Kitty is a personification of a cat." The site notes that the original story used the word "girl," not "human."
Either way, the upcoming exhibit is set to include hundreds of pieces of Hello Kitty art, merchandise, and fashion, including the famous Lady Gaga dress, and will be followed two weeks later by the inaugural Hello Kitty Con at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Meanwhile, a 5-year-old girl was suspended from school for her apparently menacing talk about her Hello Kitty bubble shooter.)

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