Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘The New Face of Beauty: You’

By Oyin Akande

We are celebrating and you should be too. On Friday 21st, celebrated Nigerian writer and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was announced as the commercial face of the new Boots No.7 campaign.

1440

Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Photo by Akintunde Akinleye

Chimamanda, who already has several critically acclaimed novels under her belt, TED talks viewed by millions and millions and a phenomenal cult following that includes Beyoncé, Zadie Smith, Dior and something like the entire population of Sweden, has just taken on the redefinition of the beauty industry.

What is really great is what this means for you. As the face of a huge beauty campaign, Chimamanda makes accessible the rosy and impossible fantasy of the beauty industry:

“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… Real women are already inspired by other real women, so perhaps beauty advertising needs to get on board”, Chimamanda told Vogue in the November 2016 issue which is downloadable here. She challenges the ill-conceived unattainability of women represented in beauty campaigns, which leave the majority of women unrepresented and unable to relate. She has quite literally opened up the possibility that you- someone real- could be the next face of beauty.

What we really love though is that she has opened up a very public dialogue with feminism and make-up, two things long believed to be at odds. Where make-up has wrongly been understood to be a tool to hide yourself, Chimamanda is reclaiming it as a tool of precise autonomy over who you are and who you present to the world. Days before the campaign was announced, Chimamanda released an amazing feminist manifesto ‘Dear Ijeawele’, which you can view via her Facebook page. The campaign merges the voice of contemporary feminism with the face of a real woman and we love it.

Watch the No.7 Campaign Video:

 

We invited Chimamanda to our first ever blogpost- within the context of beauty and makeup- back in 2013 when we asked her to do the ThandieKay Q+A. We would never have imagined then that any make-up brand would use a grown-up woman of substance as a make-up ambassador let alone one of colour, and for such a mainstream, British brand. It gives us great pleasure to realise that little girls going into Boots will now see a magnificent role model, whose beauty is secondary to her wisdom, fearlessness and intelligence.

What is your earliest make-up memory?

Six years old, at my mother’s wonderfully cluttered dressing table in Nsukka, trying on her very sticky lip gloss.

I feel most beautiful when…

I am in a good mood; I am fit and exercising regularly; I am wearing stable high heels; I have managed to do a flawless ‘cat-eye.’

When you were a child, what was your Mother’s beauty routine?

She moisturized her entire body very diligently. Ashy skin was unacceptable. I remember watching her after her bath, how she would reach across her shoulder, hand coated in cream, to get as much of her back as she could. She liked perfumes. There were heady scents in her bedroom. I remember the green POISON, the fawn CHLOE. She wore perfume to sleep. There was nail polish, powder compacts, eye pencils. She always wore tasteful makeup. My mother is one of the most beautiful people I know, and I thought so even as a child.

Is make-up a chore or a delight?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Thandie Newton at the Toronto Premiere of 'Half of a Yellow Sun' (2013)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Thandie Newton at the Toronto Premiere of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2013)

It’s become an absolute delight. I was once interested only in the most minimal makeup – colorless mascara, that sort of thing – but became more interested in make-up when I started using it to try and look a little older. I was so tired of being told I looked like a child. Now, I like to try new things, and I like the temporary transformation that make-up can bring.

Did your father refer to your Mother’s beauty, and how?

Yes. “Nekene nne unu,” he would say – “look at your mother!’ – when my mother was all dressed for church on Sunday mornings, sequinned george wrapper on her waist, a sparkly blouse, a beautifully-structured gele on her head. She knew he thought she was beautiful, you could tell.

What’s been your worst beauty mishap?

I once decided I wanted a funky afro. So I colored my hair in my bathroom, with three different color kits because the first two didn’t quite show. The result was orange hair. But what brought despair was how dry and brittle my hair became.

If you could give one beauty gift what would it be?

A good facial moisturiser.

Where’s the craziest place you’ve done your make-up?

In a narrow train toilet, although that was less crazy and more uncomfortable.

What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?

A greater range of colors (and undertones) in foundations and tinted moisturisers. A greater awareness that dark-skinned women have enormous buying power and are as much interested in beauty as anyone else.

When was the last time your mascara ran, and why?

Some years ago in my hometown. It was very hot, I’d been outside for a while, and suddenly felt a gooey heaviness around my eyes.

boots-no-7_edited-1


Buy Boots’ No.7 products here.

Follow Oyin on Twitter and Instagram

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Follow Us

Subscribe to ThandieKay.com!

Email *

What we're tweeting

"RT @ChrisEvans: Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deci…"
"RT @ava: In the future, we will celebrate the opening of a museum dedicated to the new heroes who fought against your dismantling of what t…"
"“... while having an afro might contribute to self-love and empowerment, it really doesn’t guarantee it.” https://t.co/2p4gf2wipH"
"“There should be no moral judgement behind the hair you wear. Everyone has their reasons and..."

Latest Posts