When Boots revealed that the celebrated writer and speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would be the new face of No.7, we couldn’t think of a better spokesperson for a forward-thinking beauty brand. After all, Chimamanda, whose TED Talk based on her essay ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ was famously sampled in Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless,’ has long expressed the view that being a feminist, caring about your appearance and enjoying make-up shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. As she puts it in her new campaign, ‘Make-up is just make-up. It’s how you feel wearing it that matters.’
As part of her campaign, Chimamanda has spoken about how make-up can be embraced as a transformative tool, a source of joy and as part of a woman’s identity, explaining ‘I love make-up and its wonderful possibilities for temporary transformation. And I also love my face after I wash it all off.’
In a new roundtable debate, hosted by No7 and chaired by beauty journalist Sali Hughes, the author sat down with entrepreneur Sarah Willingham, chef Gizzi Erskin, broadcasters Cherry Healey and Gemma Cairney and writer Louise O’Neill to discuss their beauty histories, and to share the positive impact that make-up has had on their lives.
Chimamanda revealed that as a young writer, she felt that she had to change the way she wore make-up in order to be taken seriously by her literary peers, and touched upon the cultural differences surrounding beauty and cosmetics.
‘I grew up in Nigeria; if you’re a serious, intelligent woman and you wear make-up and dress up, people don’t judge you, because culturally there is an expectation that you care about your appearance,’ she said. ‘When I moved to the US to go to college, […] that’s when I thought – these people are not going to take me seriously if I whip out my bright red lipstick at the writers’ conference […] So I stopped.’
‘Being female, being young-ish and being black were all things I had to overcome in my bid for seriousness,’ she added, before going on to explain how she went on to embrace the creativity and transformative power of make-up – and to shrug off the preconceptions of others.
In fact, these days, she revealed, ‘I love nothing more than people who come to my book events and say, “What is that lipstick?” That’s the most important question.’
You can watch the discussion in full below...