In a year where the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and the US election exposed great divides in the politics of the American people, it feels easy to dismiss beauty – in particular make-up – as trivial. But as feminist speaker, author and new No7 ambassador Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, “moralising make-up” is not the answer to the world’s problems.
“I think America is at a strange place now. But I think women still need to know what damn moisturiser works in the winter. I find that in many cultures there’s almost a moral thing around make-up and appearance for women. I think we just need to get away from it,” she told Racked. “And also the idea that for men the things that are considered traditionally masculine are not things that our culture dismisses as frivolous… I don’t think men who write about sports – and I’m using an example that our culture considers traditionally masculine – would necessarily be worried about appearing frivolous. Things that are traditionally masculine sort of have this patina of seriousness even when they’re not, in a way that make-up and fashion don’t. And I find myself questioning that more and more.”
Adichie’s first campaign for No7 last month saw her speaking about how she used to fear being taken less seriously because of her love of make-up, but later came to embrace it as a part of her own identity.
“I think there are some women who genuinely don’t much care about those things. I have friends who don’t care about make-up and I actually like that about them. But there are women who do and I’m one of those women,” she expanded. “I think that for a while I just thought that I couldn’t possibly wear the lipstick I wanted to wear because I felt that I would be judged. I think that changed just with getting older, getting more comfortable in my own skin, and realising that life is so damn short. There is just no point in living life based on what you imagine people expect.”