If you’ve seen a white cat with no mouth and a pink bow, then you’ve probably seen Hello Kitty, one of the most recognizable fictional cats in the world. Tattoos of this beloved kitty have been around for a while, and each one has its own personal meaning.
Hello Kitty was created in 1974, and ever since she became the symbol of cuteness in Japan, people have been wearing tattoos depicting her image. The tattoos usually represent the person’s openness and friendliness, as well as an affinity for kawaii culture.
There are a lot of reasons people may choose to get a Hello Kitty tattoo to reflect their personality and interests. The rest of this article will discuss the history, meaning, and designs of Hello Kitty tattoos.
What Is the History of Hello Kitty Tattoos?
Conceptualized in 1974, this recognizable cartoon cat has spread to multiple media outlets, including games, books, manga, anime, and toys. Originally marketed for pre-teenage girls, Hello Kitty has become a staple of kawaii culture in Japan and across the world.
This anthropomorphic cat was designed by Yuko Shimizu as an addition to the collection of Sanrio’s characters. Over time, Hello Kitty has become the embodiment of cuteness and is represented across the world today, which serves to explain the popularity of Hello Kitty tattoos.
What Do Hello Kitty Tattoos Symbolize?
The tattoos associated with Hello Kitty can vary greatly in design and personal meaning, but it’s certainly fair to say that the character’s cute, simple design and universal appeal contribute to the ideals of youth and happiness.
Hello Kitty tattoos often symbolize charm, kindness, softheartedness, friendship, and love.
It’s intentional that Hello Kitty has no mouth; the design choice indicate that she speaks through friendship and love, a language understood by all. As such, wearers of this tattoo express their desire for unity with the world and their expression of love to those they meet.
What Do Hello Kitty Tattoos Mean?
Oftentimes, Hello Kitty tattoos simply represent a nostalgic affection for a childhood favorite character. For those that grew up when Hello Kitty was taking the world by swarm, this adorable cat is a sweet and simple reminder of the past and the fictional characters that they aspired to.
Even as adults, people still appreciate the childhood cartoons and characters that they grew up with, especially a brand as long lasting as Hello Kitty. Of course, many people also get Hello Kitty tattoos to represent their love of Japanese culture, particularly the kawaii pop culture aspect of Japan.
Kawaii translates roughly to cuteness and is a cultural celebration of fictional characters that embody positivity and adorableness, a trend that has become popular the world over in comics, manga, anime, and stylized writing.
For many people, Hello Kitty is an ambassador of love and friendship—quite literally. In 2008, Japan labeled Hello Kitty as its tourism ambassador, signifying just how popular (and how lovable) this character is.
Lastly, Hello Kitty is often depicted in a counterintuitive and ironic way to create a sense of humor. For many tattoo enthusiasts, there’s just something comical about taking this plush, adorable character and putting her in some unlikely situations—such as drawing her in a goth style, sexualizing the character’s appearance, or depicting her as a zombified monster.
Characteristics and Styles of Hello Kitty Tattoos
Hello Kitty tattoos are usually quite simple in design to reflect the simple look of the character. For those wanting a low-impact tattoo that doesn’t take up a lot of space, a Hello Kitty tattoo is the perfect choice.
She is depicted as having a white face with three whiskers on either side, a yellow oval nose, and clear black eyes. Over her left ear, she wears a red bow. Her body is just slightly larger than her head, and she is often shown wearing a t-shirt under blue overalls, although many tattoos just depict her recognizable face.
True to form, many faithful renderings of Hello Kitty depict her waving an arm in greeting. Of course, there are countless ways to change up the look of a Hello Kitty tattoo. For example, she can be shown wearing a samurai outfit or with a pair of angel wings to create different styles for the character.
Traditionally, many tattoos of this nature have sparkles, diamonds, or hearts to draw out the kawaii elements of the tattoo. As mentioned before, Hello Kitty is often interpreted ironically, with styles being manipulated into grotesque zombies, punk-themed renditions, or devilish depictions with horns and a pointed tail.
What makes Hello Kitty so great in so many different styles of tattoos is just how versatile the character is. Whether she’s being depicted as a cute anthropomorphic cat or the front for a hardcore metal band, there’s so many adorable and funny depictions of Hello Kitty that make for great tattoos.
Where Do Hello Kitty Tattoos Usually Go?
Due to the simple design of Hello Kitty tattoos, they can fit just about anywhere and work depending on the scale of the tattoo. Some of the most popular locations include the following:
Oftentimes, the design is simple and low-profile, making Hello Kitty tattoos ideal for a simple design on the wrist or ankle. On the other hand, stylized depictions can be enlarged to fill space on the forearm, hip, or across the collarbone.
Hello Kitty tattoos are very versatile in where you can put them, but if you’re going for simpler linework, you’ll want to be more cautious when you’re out and about in the sun. Frequent sun exposure can cause the tattoo to fade sooner.
Hello Kitty has been and will likely remain an extremely popular symbol of Japanese kawaii culture, friendship, love, and unity, especially for those who grew up seeing the character in various media outlets. Hello Kitty can be a depiction of openness, love, or friendship, but many tattoo enthusiasts also like to depict her in ironic unlikely situations.