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.
Many, many women live and work in sunny climes. Which means that make up needs to be up to the temperature challenge. A stable base is obviously going to be more tricky when sun and sweat are jostling for position. I had that experience shooting in Nigeria on ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ in 2012 – my wonderful make up artist Sharon Martin warmed up my skin tone at the start of the shoot – but honestly, after one week in the heat of Calabar my skin had tanned to a good shade, and we pretty much abandoned foundation. It would not stay on my face!
Since then I’ve been curious about how women manage in the heat? It’s important to have the option of being able to even out our skin tone, maybe cover marks or blemishes – even in the heat. One of the advantages of the new wave of BB creams is that they promise moisturising, foundation and sun protection all in one. But that still doesn’t work when we want to be camera ready – we need more dense coverage.
I found myself in Ghana recently, out in the rural areas, and very much on camera with a crew trailing my every move. I didn’t want to be obviously ‘made-up’ but I did want a polished, natural appearance. In prepping for the trip I had to tackle the ‘what foundation?’ question.
Kay had suggested I try Double Wear Light, and ladies, IT IS THE STUFF I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! For entire days on end my make up didn’t move. Whether I was under the direct sun and sweating, or in humidity; the foundation was lightweight and stable. The tones range from pale to dark skin, and offer a Sun Factor of 10. I wouldn’t wear it in lower temperatures because I think it would have a drying effect – but for great results in the sun, this is the stuff you want.
Shop the Estée Lauder Double Wear Light
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Millie Kendall OBE, formerly of trailblazing brand Ruby & Millie, is one half of expert ‘online beauty product edit’ BeautyMART alongside Anna-Marie Solowij, former beauty director of Vogue.
Kay says: ‘It’s the unique brush that seems to automatically do what my conventional ‘left-to right at the root before sweeping upward’ manouvre does, without the manouvre’
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