Last week, our worldview was forever changed when anthropologist/Hello Kitty expert Christine R. Yano told the L.A. Times that our favorite cat is actually not a cat at all, but a girl. More specifically, “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.” Just when we thought we’d gotten a straight answer, a PR rep from Hello Kitty’s parent company Sanrio countered Yano’s claimed and said the organization “never said she was a human.” So what is she then, a nebulous nothing-species?
Sanrio says Hello Kitty is the personification of a cat in the same way that Mickey Mouse is neither a human nor an ordinary mouse. “Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat,” the company said. “It’s going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat.” These conflicting answers are very suspicious. If Hello Kitty is this sketchy in the explanation of what she even is, then what other lies is she living? As it turns out, Hello Kitty has a whole complicated backstory that most of us have heard nothing about. If there’s nothing to hide, why wasn’t she more transparent about her past? The story of her origin is full of holes. Here are 15 facts about Hello Kitty that most of us never knew. They may make you question what kind of scheme Hello Kitty may be running after all.
1. Her full name is Kitty White. Though in the first few years of her existence, she was bleakly known as ”the white cat with no name.” That’s kind of sad.
2. She is five apples tall, which is apparently an actual measurement of height in her world.
3. She has a twin sister named Mimmy and parents named Mary and George. George works hard but still finds time for the kiddos. Mary loves to cook and do housework. Her grandfather Anthony likes to tell stories while Grandma Margaret likes to sit around and sew, because she is a woman and naturally Sanrio would be boring and sexist and give all the women domestic hobbies. All of her family members are the same not-quite-cat/not-quite-human species that Sanrio describes Hello Kitty to be.
4. Mimmy totally got the shaft and is basically the boring twin. This chick is described as very feminine and shy, which really says nothing about what her actual personality is like, but she spends so much time traipsing around in her sister’s shadow that she’s probably forgotten what her own identity is anyway. She enjoys sewing and “dreaming of marriage,” probably because Hello Kitty hogged any opportunity there was in the family to shine as a successful individual and marriage is the only original thing Mimmy can think of that Hello Kitty hasn’t tried yet. Or, you know, because of the woman thing again.
5. Mimmy and Hello Kitty are allegedly BFFs. I find this hard to believe because of the aforementioned inequalities between the two sisters, but we’ll go with it. While Hello Kitty wears a red ribbon on her left ear with blue overalls, Mimmy wears a yellow ribbon on her right ear with red overalls, which really just makes them look even more matchy-matchy.
6. Even though Sanrio is a Japanese company, Hello Kitty is British. She was born in the suburbs of London.
7. She’s right-brained and caring. Well, so she says, but I imagine Mimmy may feel differently. Her favorite subjects in school are English, music and art. She loves baking, origami, tennis, and according to her Sanrio bio, “other cute little things” (read: if it’s twee enough, she’ll dig it).
8. While she is not a cat, she does have a pet cat that look suspiciously similar to her (besides walking on all fours). Her name is Charmmy Kitty, and she is super chill and “fond of shiny things.” Charmmy Kitty was a gift from Hello Kitty’s father. No word on whether Mimmy was also gifted with a pet to play with from her dad or just told to go twiddle her thumbs.
9. Hello Kitty has lots of critter pals in the world of Sanrio. A seal named Mori lives in her backyard, though I’m not sure how many backyards in the London suburbs are equipped to host seals (yet another hole in Kitty’s story!). She also has a squirrel friend named Rory. She met Rory when she was gathering flowers in the forest, and he taught her lots of “neat stuff” — Sanrio’s words, not mine — about the woods. At school, Hello Kitty hangs out with a diverse group of caring friends like bears, sheep, dogs and badgers.
10. She has a close childhood friend named Dear Daniel. He’s described as fashionable, sensitive, good at dancing, and an aspiring celebrity. He gave Hello Kitty a hamster named Sugar. It sounds like they’re either destined to fall in love when they grow up or she’s destined to be his beard, though a bear classmate named Tippy has a major crush on Kitty, so Daniel better act fast if he doesn’t want to lose her.
11. Despite being a perpetual third grader, she was created 39 years ago. This totally explains those ’70s-style jumpers she seems to love. Her birthday is November 1, which means she’s a Scorpio.
12. Hello Kitty didn’t have any kind of TV series or anything else involving a plot (like a book or film) about her until 1992. Until then, she only existed as an image on merchandise, so this entire suspicious, frenzied story of her past wasn’t really even necessary.
13. Sanrio is still churning out characters left and right in hopes of hitting the jackpot again like they did with Hello Kitty’s fame. A recent attempt was a pink bunny created in 2012 who was questionably named Bonbonribbon. Not sure why they couldn’t dust off Mimmy and give her a shot at fame after waiting in the wings for decades.
14. Hello Kitty has no mouth. You’ve probably already noticed this, but I find it somewhat sketchy. Like, what other side to her personality is she trying to hide by not showing us her full facial expression? Hello Kitty’s official designer told Time that the mouthless phenomenon is “so that people who look at her can project their own feelings onto her face, because she has an expressionless face. Kitty looks happy when people are happy. She looks sad when they are sad. For this psychological reason, we thought she shouldn’t be tied to any emotion — and that’s why she doesn’t have a mouth.” Hmmm.
15. Hello Kitty has her own jet plane, her own branded album, and several theme parks. She even has her own maternity hospital with her face adorned on all its baby blankets so she can be the first thing newborns see when they come into the world. Whatever throne of lies Hello Kitty is sitting on, it’s working for her. Her suspiciously adorable face is taking over the world one hair ribbon at a time.
[Image via Shutterstock]