This is a big year for Kitty White or as she is popularly known, 'Hello Kitty'. That's because on November 1st, 2014, the perpetual 3rd grader will celebrate her 40th birthday! And while she is not shy about revealing her age, Ms. White sure has been keeping a big secret from the world - she is NOT a cat!
This shocking revelation that began as an internet rumor earlier this year, was confirmed in late August, by Harvard anthropologist and Hello Kitty expert Christine Yano. The author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific", says that whilst curating an upcoming exhibit to honor the famous icon's 40th birthday, she wrote a script that referred to Hello Kitty as a 'feline'.
However, when she sent it to Hello Kitty's creator, Japanese company Sanrio for approval, they corrected it and informed her that while she may look like a cat, Hello Kitty was anything but. According to the creators, she is a girl, friend, icon and what Japanese refer to as a 'kyarakutaa', which loosely translates as 'character'. Another shocker? Ms. Kitty has a pet cat called Charmmy Kitty!
Now that the 40-year-old confusion has been cleared, the famous icon can continue her birthday celebrations, which commenced in June, when Hello Kitty was flown to Space aboard the nanosatellite Hodoyoshi 3, from where she transmitted stunning images and also beamed messages sent in by her followers.
Back on earth, her fans are busy putting finishing touches to Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, the first large-scale Hello Kitty museum retrospective in the United States. Scheduled to open from October 11th, 2014 to April 15th, 2015 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, it will feature a product-based historical and sociological look at the Hello Kitty phenomenon that includes an art exhibition outlining the icon's influence on contemporary art.
And that is not all. From October 30th to November 2nd, Hello Kitty will be hosting her first ever convention. The famous icon will be at Little Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles,for Hello Kitty Con 2014, a global gathering of fans and friend to honor her 40th anniversary. The event promises to provide a fun interactive experience for all ages and will include activities, exhibits, food, lectures and even panels centered on Hello Kitty! These of course are just the US-based celebrations. Her Japanese fans probably have even bigger events in store.
Born Kitty White, Hello Kitty first appeared on Sanrio stationary in 1974, as one of their 'cutesy' characters. Born half British and half Japanese, her 'family' was based out of England. She even had a twin sister called Mimmy, though not much has been heard about her since. To signify that she spoke a global language from her heart, she was sketched without a mouth.
While the creators had hoped that this intriguing background would grab the heartstrings of young kids, even they were surprised at her almost overnight success. What's even more stunning is that in the last 40 years, her fanbase that includes both kids and adults, has only increased.
It is therefore no wonder that she now has a blog, a multi-player game site and a 3D Japanese television show. There is also a Hello Kitty theme park and three themed airplanes for fans that cannot get enough. The cutesy character also happens to be Japan's Tourism Ambassador!
Featured on more than 50,000 products that are sold in over 60 countries worldwide, Hello Kitty earns over $7billion USD annually. It is no wonder that she is the star of her parent company Sanrio, who has dedicated their entire website to the celebrity, who looks fabulous at 40!
Resources: pri.org,space.com, bbc.co.uk, wikipedia.org