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Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: “Women can like make-up and still be intellectual”

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Feminist, novelist, Beyoncé-inspirer, make-up ambassador and woman after our own heart, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie is always coming out with words of wisdom.

Last week, she schooled a right wing journalist on what does and does not constitute racism, and this week, she’s discussed the age-old accusation – that women who enjoy make-up are somehow less intellectually gifted, superficial, even.

The author, who recently became a brand ambassador for No. 7, made the comments in an interview with Racked magazine, in which she also expressed shock that she was asked to do the role, saying in modesty that:

“I have no idea how they found me and I really don’t know what the hell they were thinking asking me. My only hope is that the sales don’t fall.”


Read more: My peroxide crop: an obstinate little feminist rebellion


But, despite initial reservations about the idea, Adichie says that she took up the role, partly because “I realised there was a good possibility of being sent a lot of free make-up,” but more seriously, because “I wanted to be part of the message that women who like make-up also have important and serious things that they’re doing in their lives.”

“Those can co-exist,” she continues. “I think it’s time to really stop that ridiculous idea that somehow if you’re a serious woman you can’t and should not care about how you look.”

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie highlighted the double standards that come with women’s appearances, recalling when she first moved to America and was publishing her first novel: “I had quickly realised that for a woman to be taken seriously and to be seen as a “serious intellectual person” she couldn’t possibly look as though she cared a lot about her appearance,” she recalls.

But she eventually decided to stop caring, realising the pleasure make-up brought her. “On the days when I think my cat-eye is good, it just makes me happy,” she says.

While talking about beauty post-Trump might feel a little superficial to some, the author rejected this idea, saying: “I think America is at a strange place now. But I think women still need to know what damn moisturiser works in the winter!”


Read more: “Can I be a feminist and still love make-up?”


“One of the things that I think is important is that we shouldn’t moralise make-up,” she says.

Additionally, the writer thinks all choices regarding beauty should be embraced, including Alicia Key’s recent rejection of make-up, saying: “I really respect her and her choice. For her I think makeup has always been some sort of mask and she felt she was hiding behind it, and for her it was almost a liberation. That’s my hope and my prayer for women, that women are allowed to be whatever version makes them feel truly like themselves.”

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