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I’ve had a lot of life philosophies. I’m like Sally from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (the revival, obviously, since my one-time stint at dramaturgy for that show in high school educated me extensively about the difference between Patti and Patty and how copyright works), constantly developing new philosophies as life changes. The one that’s been guiding my life for a little over a year now is probably worthy of Sally’s irreverent approach, but it’s made a huge difference for me: “Hello Kitty is not just a character. It’s a lifestyle.”
Hello Kitty: The Character was introduced in Japan in 1974 and first appeared in the US in 1976. She was part of Sanrio’s line of character-decor gifts, intended to “enrich interpersonal communication.” I grew up with Hello Kitty: The Character. I was born in Japan and though we left when I was a baby, my parents visited often during my childhood and would bring back trinkets and souvenirs, many of which were Hello Kitty. My sisters and I loved the pens, stationery, erasers, candy, and other Sanrio toys. It wasn’t a deep love–there was nothing more to that love than simply enjoying something that made us smile. At the time, I didn’t realize how powerful that could be.
Hello Kitty: The Lifestyle began when I campaigned for the administrative chair position in a large student-run organization. I wanted to bring my personality to my campaign, so I ended up printing my letters on Hello Kitty stationary. I didn’t expect to win: not least because Hello Kitty doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in one’s ability to manage $20,000 in annual operating expenses, but also because I just wasn’t all that well-known in the group of people voting. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I won the election by a landslide. Afterwards, I was shocked by how many people approached me and told me they voted for me because of Hello Kitty–not despite. I started to look at why. Why did this cartoon resonate so deeply with a group of serious, twenty-something graduate students? The answer surprised me, even though it shouldn’t have: Hello Kitty made them smile, and they wanted to spend the year smiling.
That’s a powerful statement. They wanted to smile. Membership in that organization can often be stressful, demanding, and frustrating. Hello Kitty seemed like a new paradigm: be efficient, be effective, but make people smile while you’re doing it. That’s my new philosophy, in a nutshell. It’s about finding a way to make every day enjoyable, giving people a reason to smile no matter how difficult or frustrating the circumstance is. And though you don’t really need Hello Kitty for that, it can help. It’s hard to frown when you’re faced with Hello Kitty. It’s hard to stay angry when you’re faced with a tiny white cat in a pink jumper dress and a hair bow.
So I’ve surrounded myself with Hello Kitty. I have a watch, clock, coffee mug, cell phone cover, tea kettle, duct tape, trash can, shower curtain, bathroom mats, towel, complete set of office supplies, scrapbooking kit, giant plushie (it’s holding a cupcake! Another one of my passions!), tape, stickers, fake tattoos, bumper sticker, earrings, gel pen set…There’s probably more, but I’m just listing what I can remember off the top of my head. Some people call it obsessive. Others have just decided it makes me really easy to buy presents for. But I can’t honestly say I care what they think, because the point is that Hello Kitty makes me happy. It’s not even that I’m ignoring society’s judgment because who cares, I’m happy! It’s that the goal is to be happy, to spend my day smiling and making every moment a joy for myself and those around me. Hello Kitty is a sort of means to an end: when I’m frustrated, I can look down, see my watch, and smile. When I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I go into my bathroom and see wall-to-wall Hello Kitty, and suddenly morning doesn’t seem so evil. I’m a better, more pleasant person when I have Hello Kitty, and everyone else benefits from that. So they need to stop judging and buy me more pink things.
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1. Randomly hitting your keyboard to express overwhelming emotion, such as anger or excitement.
ot5 \ oh-TEE-fahyv \ noun
1. Favorite combination of five persons in a fandom.
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