Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: feminist, author, and a real influencer

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named as face of British beauty range

Her global influence from education and pop culture seems unstoppable

CNN  — 

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was named as the new face of Boots No7 beauty range, Tuesday, further securing her position as one of the most influential African women in the world.

The move is more than a meaningless celebrity endorsement. Adichie’s love of makeup is no secret: “I love make-up and its wonderful possibilities for temporary transformation. “And I also love my face after I wash it all off,” she said in a statement published in British Vogue.

“There is something exquisitely enjoyable about seeing yourself with a self-made new look.

“And for me that look is deeply personal. It isn’t about what is in fashion or what the rules are supposed to be.”

Adichie has not hidden her issues with the beauty industry. Like many women of color in the spotlight, she has previously admitted to carrying her own foundation with her at all times, in case the makeup artist does not have her shade.

She has also spoken about the false promises peddled to women to world over. “I think much of beauty advertising relies on a false premise – that women need to be treated in an infantile way, given a ‘fantasy’ to aspire to…” she said in an interview with British Vogue.

“Real women are already inspired by other real women, so perhaps beauty advertising needs to get on board.”

The public seem to think Boots got it right with Adichie, choosing someone that is both relatable and influential.

The advertising campaign featuring Adichie launches on October 21.

We should all be feminists: on stage, on the catwalk, in schools

When Adichie talks, people listen, quote her in songs, print her words on T-shirts and send her words to every 16-year-old in Sweden.

Beyoncé Knowles quoted Adichie’s TEDxEuston speech ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ so heavily in a single named Flawless, that she named her a contributing artist.

While Adichie was not too impressed with some of the reactions to the citation – people expected her to say Beyoncé made her career – she did eventually acknowledge it, stating it as a different type of feminism to hers, but adding that both are effective.

More recently Adichie’s words appeared on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. Italian fashion designer and Dior’s first ever female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, had the words ‘We should all be feminists’ on a T-Shirt in her ready-to-wear SS17 collection.

Adichie was also front row at the show, and her speech was included in the soundtrack.

In the world of education, Adichie has also made her mark. In December 2015, the Swedish Women’s Lobby and publishing house Albert Bonniers launched a campaign gifting Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists speech to all high schools in Sweden.

A third book written by Adichie is being made into a film, her short story “The Thing Around Your Neck” that’s being adapted by Ghanaian filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu.

To the first lady with love

Politically, Adichie is finding her voice too. This month Adichie wrote a moving thank you note to First Lady Michelle Obama in a New York Times piece, alongside feminist Gloria Steinem, author Jon Meacham and actress Rashida Jones.

“Women, in general, are not permitted anger,” she wrote candidly.

“But from black American women, there is an added expectation of interminable gratitude, the closer to groveling the better, as though their citizenship is a phenomenon that they cannot take for granted.”

She was also called on to write an op-ed for the same publication on Nigeria’s failed promises, in which she documents her thoughts on Buhari’s rise to power and presidency, in which she stated: “[Buhari] had an opportunity to make real reforms early on, to boldly reshape Nigeria’s path. He wasted it.”

Views on motherhood

This summer Adichie announced she was the mother of a baby girl. Private as she is, the public have been keen to learn from Adichie, prompting her to release her feminist manifesto on how to raise a child – a letter of fifteen suggestions written as though to a friend who has recently given birth.

“Teach her to reject likeability,” she writes. “Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.”

Ending with a humble acknowledgment of her position as a source of endless guidance: “Do you have a headache after reading all this? Sorry. Next time don’t ask me how to raise your daughter feminist.”