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.
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.
Six years old, at my mother’s wonderfully cluttered dressing table in Nsukka, trying on her very sticky lip gloss.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
A good facial moisturiser.
In a narrow train toilet, although that was less crazy and more uncomfortable.
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.
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.
Buy Boots’ No.7 products here.
Post by Thandie
In ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, set in Nigeria in the late 60s, she plays university academic Ms Adebayo, and rocks a lustrous afro from start to finish.
A style maven herself, she has her own clothing line, as well as being the face of cosmetics brand Mud Nigeria left. A staggering 80 Nollywood films under her teeny tiny belt we grabbed a few minutes from her busy schedule to get her to answer our Q and A.
1. What is your earliest make-up memory?
I’d say high school…probably around the age of 12. It involved eye pencil, clear powder and lip gloss.
…when I have a fresh face on…cleansed and moisturized.
3. When you were a child, what was your Mother’s beauty routine?
She loved her tinted powder, eye pencil, and her maroon-colored lipstick.
4. Is make-up a chore or a delight?
Oh it’s a delight to me. I love to paint and combine colors.
5. Did your father refer to your Mother’s beauty, and how?
Every time. He loved her eyes and smile and would always say we were lucky to get her features.
6. What’s been your worst beauty mishap?
I’ve had running makeup at a public event before. Not a good look…I tried to avoid being photographed without success. Lol!
7. If you could give one beauty gift what would it be?
8. Where’s the craziest place you’ve done your make-up?
In the car while driving
9. What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?
A wider variety of colors of powders and foundation for darker skinned women. The dark skin varies a whole lot.
I’d say while I was on a movie set. I had to cry for a scene…
Posted by Kay
After a long drive across London to the south of the river, we all arrived in Streatham for the UK premiere of Half of A Yellow Sun, adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s much-loved novel. The press reception was large and welcoming which was no surprise seeing as both Chimamanda and Chiwetel Ejiofor were there too. I’ve always loved the immediacy and vicarious excitement of the red carpet, and seeing as Thandie’s my favourite make-up muse, it is always fun.
Thandie used her regular moisturiser Olay Total Effects before I arrived so just before we started on the base, she applied Clarins Beauty Flash Balm to freshen and tighten her skin (you may/may not know-Thandie gave birth 4 weeks ago-sleep is a distant memory!!).
To ‘brighten’ the area around Thandie’s eyes, I used Bobbi Brown’s Corrector in Light to Medium Peach.
As you can see below, correctors differ in colour from concealers because the under-eyes need the brightening tones of peach (to terracotta in darker skin) to rid the eyes of greyer tones, whilst the more olive-toned concealer ‘neutralizes’ the red tones around the nose, chin, or on any blemishes.
I used Chanel‘s new Powder Blush in ‘Malice‘, a gorgeous rosy apricot.
Thandie & I are HUGE fans of Chanel‘s amazing cream/powder eyeshadows ‘Illusion D’Ombres. The ease of application, the staying power, the unique effect and on-point colour range give them total must-have status. I used Mirage from the new Summer Collection over Thandie’s lids and Apparition (which I’ve used many times on Lupita Nyong’O), creating a navy smoulder around her lashes and blending outward.
We’ve mentioned Ilia before, everything about it-from the philosophy, ingredients, packaging and texture-are different from other cosmetics. We love the natural look of their sheer lipsticks and because on this occasion I wanted to play up Thandie’s eyes, a subtle tint was all that was needed. We used ‘Perfect Day’.