Gwen Stefani did not apologize for her past obsession with wearing bindis while filming a fashion retrospective video.
On Thursday, the 50-year-old “Hollaback Girl” singer took to Instagram to share a video that she recently filmed for Vogue. In it, she’s flipping through a thick lookbook full of photos of some of the many iconic outfits she’s worn over the years. The first picture that she talks about is one taken in 1995. The No Doubt frontwoman is pictured sitting next to Tony Kanal, the band’s bassist and Gwen’s ex-boyfriend.
Gwen has on a pair of satin leopard-print pants and a cropped white tank top bedazzled with a smattering of sparkly rhinestones. The tiny gems match the adornment on her forehead. Gwen explains that she began wearing bindis after spending time around Tony Kanal’s mom. He is Indian, and she would often see his mother wearing traditional Indian clothing and a bindi. The forehead decorations have a religious and cultural significance for many South Asian women, which is why some people find it problematic for Western women like Gwen Stefani to wear them.
Last year, Vice writer Wanna Thompson slammed the singer for culturally appropriating the bindi early on in her career. Gwen doesn’t directly address the accusations that she’s engaged in culture appropriation through her fashion choices, but she does seem to suggest that she began wearing the bindi as a form of cultural appreciation. She also reveals that she didn’t seek out the adornment herself, saying that Tony’s mother once gave her some bindis.
“I was just so unbelievably fascinated by Indian culture in particular because Tony Kanal, who was my boyfriend at the time — he’s the bass player for No Doubt — is Indian,” Gwen says in the video.
“I had never, growing up in Anaheim, spent any time with anyone from India,” she continues. “And his mom would come down the stairs ready to go to these Indian parties, all dolled up with the bindi and jewelry and these beautiful fabric dresses.”
Gwen reveals that she was in awe of her traditional Indian outfits because she’d “never seen anything like it.”
“So she gave me a lot of bindis, and I was just like hey, what’s up, boom,” Gwen says as she points at her forehead.
Gwen Stefani doesn’t wear bindis these days, but she is still getting outfit ideas from her boyfriend’s culture. She is currently dating country music star Blake Shelton, and the cowboy’s influence on her style is obvious in one of the costumes that she wears for her “Just a Girl” show in Las Vegas. She recently shared an Instagram snapshot of the Western-inspired outfit, which includes a jacket covered in gold fringe and a pair of cowboy boots.
Even though some of Gwen’s style choices have occasionally come under fire, she’s going to be presented with the Fashion Icon award at the 2019 E! People’s Choice Awards next month.