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What is Hello Kitty?

One moment, everything makes sense. The next, chaos. For nearly 40 years, we’ve all been comfortable with assuming that Hello Kitty is a kitty. Those simpler days are now gone.

The epicenter of this pop culture landscape-altering earthquake is Los Angeles, where the Japanese American National Museum is set to open in October. The museum will be home to a Hello Kitty exhibit to celebrate 40 years. Christine R. Yano, an anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, was tasked with writing the texts for the exhibit. She recounted to the LA Times a shocking truth from the Hello Kitty authorities themselves.

Yano says that when looking through her texts, Sanrio ‘very firmly’ told her that Hello Kitty is not a cat. Despite the whiskers, despite the ears, Yano was told that Hello Kitty is a little girl in third grade named Kitty White. Turns out Hello Kitty (Kitty White? I don’t even know anymore) is actually British, daughter to George and Mary. More vexing still is that this backstory has been around as long as Hello Kitty herself, but we all somehow collectively lost sight of it over the decades.

But wait! Staffers at Kotaku, dissatisfied with such a disturbing revelation, demanded to know more from Sanrio. The representative they talked to said it ‘would be going too far’ to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat, suggesting that she’s simply an anthropomorphic cat. That’s where we were at the beginning! But now we’re acutely aware of it, and that makes things weird and scary.

Anyway, there’s a silver lining. We’ve all learned that Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth because she ‘speaks from the heart.’ I’m glad that’s been cleared up.