Hello Kitty has something to say

Candace, 22 August 2006, No comments
Categories: Bodies, Culture, Feminism

Hello Kitty has something to say – I’m sure she does – we all do. She’s a busy kitty, getting around, all over back packs, pencil cases, running shoes, t-shirts, pajamas, carpets, toothbrushes… I know lots of little girls (and one professor) who think Hello Kitty is great and own HK gear, but what message are they picking up from this quiet puss with no mouth?

Where is Hello Kitty’s mouth?

The message here is loud and clear (unlike HK’s voice): don’t just be quiet and passive, be Silent. You have nothing to say – you are forbidden from speaking. Stop thinking and feeling too.

I propose an artistic endeavour where people who are tired of women being told to stay out of the way and keep quiet put the mouth back on Hello Kitty. I invite you to “Take Back the Mouth”. Leave a comment with a link to where we can find your creations.

I am kitty cat – hear me roar!

hello kitty image with mouths drawn on


No Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Sylvia S. Soul
    24 August 2006, 9:26 am

    So what does that say about Dilbert?

  2. Candace
    05 October 2006, 6:58 pm

    Dilbert is an engineer, a group known for their smarts. And though he may be goofy he is certainly given opportunities to share his thoughts in the text that goes with the strip.

    I’m not suggesting a boycott of Hello Kitty but I think it’s important to see how insidious the messages about women’s expected behaviour have become. Why doesn’t it seem strange to us that this character is voiceless? Is it because we’ve grown accustomed to women’s silence?

  3. mel
    10 March 2007, 2:27 pm

    i grew up loving hello kitty, and it’s quite wierd and disturbing that this so called “world ambassador” has no mouth. How is that possible? Well, now as a
    somewhat more mature adult, I see this as a problem. I am thinking of making art and putting a mouth on her. Let me tell you there is a lot she has to say about
    some of what’s been ‘goin on in the world!


  4. Olivia
    15 July 2007, 11:37 pm

    I don’t see it as that big of a deal, after all they made Hello Kitty shows for kids where she is talking and she still doesn’t have a mouth.

  5. Candace
    04 September 2007, 10:44 am

    @ Olivia: I think this is exactly why it’s worth mentioning though. If there wasn’t a long history of women being subordinated and silenced it wouldn’t matter. Once you put it into context, and look at Hello Kitty (HK) as a product and representation of our culture, it’s a problem. Think about this: if HK doesn’t have a mouth in those cartoons, who is speaking for her? Does she create her own speech or does someone else speak for her? If it’s another person, does this person represent HK’s true thoughts or what they want HK to say? Does this remind you of women now and in that past who have been unable to act and choose for themselves and forced to submit, please, and do as their told?

  6. frida k.
    09 September 2007, 8:34 am

    wow that is so clever. you really have a point there. can i use the picture if i tell that you made it?

    //frida(from sweden)

  7. krystle
    06 January 2008, 6:22 pm

    Actually, hello kitty isnt a message to women to shut their mouths..hello kitty doesnt have a mouth because she speaks with her heart instead of blabbing off meaningless nothings with her mouth like most people do…people are completely missing the real message here, youre all looking at too many trivial details

  8. Candace
    29 January 2008, 10:36 am

    @ frida k: sure, go ahead and use it.

    @ krystle: I’m sorry you think the details are trivia. I believe that the message in the details is often where we find truths about ourselves and our society. Why couldn’t HK speak from the heart (and mind) with her mouth?

  9. Off Putting
    20 April 2008, 11:12 pm

    If you read up on Hello Kitty you’d know about her feminist underpinings. But instead you do no research whatsoever and look like a fool.

  10. Candace
    21 April 2008, 8:42 am

    @ Off Putting: welcome and thanks for your comment. I did read up on HK and her roots are not feminist — they’re consumerist. HK was designed by Japanese company Sanrio in the 1970s and first seen on a coin purse and later, well, seen on anything and everything imaginable. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. affi
    19 May 2008, 3:05 am

    Hello Kitty doesnt have a mouth because she was initially just an image. an image that represents girls being seen not heard. her popularity is bizarre, and i often wonder who gives their children more hello kitty products, mums or dads?

    Considering how popular she is these days, youd think shed have a mouth. but perhaps she is so popular because she is mouthless, ready and waiting for you to adopt her as yourself and speak for her i.e buy hello kitty products or she dies.

    sanrio even admits that they want the consumer to project their emotions onto hello kitty, however i believe that hello kitty has no mouth because it is cheaper to manufactor a cat without a mouth, and cat mouths look slightly vagina ish, and in 1974 most people were proud to debase women. her boyfreind or family has no mouth either- and all her friends have mouths, but none are as wholesome as hello kitty

    and yes, i well draw hello kittys with mouths, angry mouths with fangs

  12. vanessa
    27 June 2008, 11:47 am

    hello kitty u dont have a mouth beacause u ask the devel to have a mouth

  13. Creamy
    13 July 2008, 5:56 am


    Hello Kitty is a special case. You are looking at her in the way you would Snoopy or Donald Duck. She is rather different.

    Sanrio has many, many characters in their repotrair’e, nearing 3000 or more. Many out of those are mouthless. The mouthless characters are boys, girls, animals, humans, adults and children. Patty and Jimmy are an American girl and boy duo, originally two of Sanrio’s most popular characters. My Melody is a parody of Little Red Riding Hood as a rabbit. She is mainly decipted with a mouth, but has been shown without one a few times also.

    Out of all these characters, mouthed and mouthless, Hello Kitty is the most popular. This is because she is most iconic, with her “blank-canvas” pure white fur, black eyes, simple dress. “Hello” is the start of a friendly conversation, the first. She is basest and default. It is mere coincidence that she is a girl with no mouth. A sexist view, actually, would have her as a boy kitten to make her more default. Her mouthlessness says, “I am an inanimate object. If you try to see inside of me, you won’t find anything, because I have no holes to look into in the first place. You might as well give up now.”

    On another note, Hello Kitty, despite what other people will tell you, actually has a fairly detailed back story. It is vauged and obscured to keep her reputation in the public’s eye and blank, iconic feel, but it exists.

    Kitty White lives in a town on the outskirts of London, England. She is a very outgoing and warm-hearted girl in the third grade with lots of friends. (Who are all mouthless.) She loves traveling, (to find new friends.) She adores her blue overalls, she is an active kid that loves to run and play and the overalls are good to run in. She has typical middle-class British hobbies like tennis and piano, her best subjects at school are English, the Arts, and French. She wants to be a poet or a famous pianist when she grows up. Mimmy is her twin sister, she is very shy (as opposed to her popular sibling) and is good at Home Economics. She wears her bow on the oppisite ear to Kitty’s so people can tell them apart. Kitty and Mimmy go on many adventures together, but it is usually Kitty who saves them both if things go wrong.

    As you can see, the friendlier, braver, more intelligent twin girl gets more friends. It is Kitty who is featured on merchandise and only Mimmy if she is paired with her, never has Hello Mimmy a single notebook to herself.

    So Hello Kitty is not anti-feminist, but actually a very outgoing, cheerful young woman with a two wonderful career choices. (I, for one, would love to hear what wonderful, beautiful poetry or piano peices she writes in the future.) Sanrio keeps these important details out of mainstream viewing, which makes her a symbol that people interpret in ways that are wrong. I do not think that Sanrio has made a smart move in this, exept in profits of design series’, where Blank Canvas Kitty can be potrayed in different ways (punk, girly, Japanesque etc,.)

    It is not consumurism either, because there are plenty of practical products put out. If I needed to buy a clip-folder for school, and if there were a wide variety of choices in stock at my local school supplies store, I would buy the one with Cinnamoroll or something on it because it is nicer-looking than a regular black folder. It costs a few more dollars because it is prettier and a name brand.

    Hello Kitty would never intentionally represent or purposely put forth any predjudiced ideas, because she is so friendy. I hope that I have made my point!

  14. Private
    28 July 2008, 1:32 am

    Hello Kitty means “Hello Devil”

    Their was once a little girl who lived in china. She had cancer in her mouth, her mother would suffer alot and all she wanted was her daughter to get better and find a cure, but back then it was hard to find a cure for those type of dieases. One day her mom made a special deal with someone she least expected to ask for help “The Devil”….. She made a deal and told him if he cured her daughter she would make a really famous band just for him directly for him in exchange for her daughters cure. She told him i would make it very famous and it will be very successful. Time went by her daughter got cured and her mother made a kitty as her daughter and no mouth since that was the cure….. kitty mean “small cat” ….. little girl…. kitty also means “devil in China.

  15. mimi
    15 October 2008, 11:53 am

    you think too much about it.
    she’s a cartoon cat for children, who has become a design, a logo, a simple image, for fashion and toys. she isnt a human for goodness’ sake.
    hello kitty is a very simply drawn yet loveable character.
    you have way too much free time if you can sit around writing rubbish about children’s cartoon characters. she doesn’t have a mouth because that’s how they designed her, and she looks much nicer anyway without one. they did not make her without a mouth to send out any messages on who should be able to speak. so stop thinking about it so much and get a JOB.

  16. ana
    30 December 2008, 6:26 pm

    To Private, 28. July 2008, 1:32

    That story is a hoax. The word “kitty” in chinese has no meaning. Do some research before you talk.

  17. Bob Vance
    10 January 2009, 2:01 pm

    You are pathetic. Why does Hello Kitty not have a mouth? I don’t know, perhaps the same reason you don’t have a brain.

  18. Sarah
    30 March 2009, 3:33 pm

    Why doesnt Hello Kitty have a mouth

    15 April 2009, 9:39 pm

    i have grown up with hello kitty all my life and i would never thaught that se had such a basare legend behind her. she doesnt have a mouth because she simply shows cuteness and she doesnt have to talk. the story about the little girl in china got my attention but it may be true n it may not but if it is true GOD PLEASE HELP THOSE WHO LOVE HER (SERIOUSLY).

  20. Ambry
    07 May 2009, 7:19 pm

    you guys are talking things way out of proportion.
    Hello Kitty doesnt have a mouth becasue she’s cuter that way and she speaks from her heart.
    She has depth.

  21. katterwald
    19 July 2009, 11:53 am

    I heard this story also from a hispanic woman. She made her daughter throw out a hello kitty doll because she said it meant “hello devil” in chinese. What a gullable mom.Lets not give the devil so much glory.She, the mother is teaching her daughter to be superstitious. the origin of hello kitty was from a marking perspective in japanese culture. There are essences of a cat bhudda in the character which I agree as a Christian I do not celebrate. So I would not have my daughter collect them but if someone gave her a doll, well as long as she does not worship the doll it is fine for her to have it. As a child I used to like the Joan Walsh Anglund characters that also had no mouths but the were not Japanese characters and by the way there were no weird origins about them either. Anybody can create stupid stories about demons behind doorknobs.Some cultures believe dolls can be used to curse other people such as voodoo dolls and others do not put faces on their dolls such as the Amish because of their certian beliefs about simplicity. I have sensed that in the Hispanic culture there is some superstition mixed in with religion. I would call this cultural beliefs rather than Chrisitan beliefs. There is no place for superstition in the bible that I know of.

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