In a flurry of tweets that have since been deleted, the singer responded to social media users who accused her of cultural appropriation after she got a bungled translation of “7 Rings” inked in Japanese on her palm.
In response to a Twitter user who called on her to apologize for the tat, Grande explained that she “can’t read or write Kanji obviously.”
“What do you want me to do?” she tweeted back. “It was done out of love and appreciation. What do you want me to say?”
She initially attempted to get the name of her latest track tatted in kanji, or Japanese characters. But instead of “7 Rings,” the tattoo read “七輪,” or “shichirin,” roughly meaning a small charcoal grill. When she tried to fix the error by adding another kanji character, she didn’t fare much better. When read from left to right, the new phrase, “七輪指♡” roughly translates to “small charcoal grill finger ♡.”
Several social media users said that, considering the kawaii aesthetic of her “7 Rings” video coupled with her obvious lack of understanding of kanji, Grande’s appreciation of Japanese culture seemed superficial, prompting many to accuse her of cultural appropriation.
One Twitter user pointed out that while many Japanese-Americans endured ridicule and bullying because of their culture, Grande used the culture as an aesthetic, skirting lived experiences often associated with it.
Grande initially appeared to laugh off criticisms, brushing off some shade thrown by TMZ.
But over the weekend, Grande went on a tirade, saying she tried to fix the tattoo with the help of her tutor to “be more accurate.” She also asked, “u know how many people make this mistake and DON’T care just cause they like how it looks? bruh.... i care soooo much. what would u like me to do or say? forreal.”
“There is a difference between appropriation and appreciation,” she wrote, trying to school Twitter users. “My Japanese fans were always excited when I wrote in Japanese or wore Japanese sayings on my clothing. However, all of the merch with Japanese on it was taken down from my site not that anyone cared to notice.”
She also tweeted about her “crippling anxiety” and accused some social media users of not knowing “how to be forgiving or gentle when someone has made an innocent mistake.”
Since those tweets disappeared, many of her fans have questioned her decision to delete her statements. And several said she could’ve handled the situation better.