She’s a literary genius, a lecturer at one of America’s most renowned universities, an intellectual who’s received many respected awards in the literary world, she’s even given a TED talk yet, she loves shoes.
Chimamanda Adichie has certainly never been your conventional ‘Nigerian’ woman. She’s an outspoken feminist who’s frequently spoken out against gender inequality globally and in Nigeria. Recently, she lent her support towards the LGBT movement in Nigeria by calling the Anti-same sex Marriage law passed by President Goodluck Jonathan, unlawful and an infringement on freedom of expression.
All these are somewhat expected of a typical smart and intellectual woman in our society. What is not expected and according to the author, frowned upon in the world of geniuses is a love of fashion, particularly shoes…..and yellow ones too ;-).
The author wrote an article featured in the latest issue of Elle magazine where she bemoaned the attitude of the intellectual crowd in dismissing anyone who so much as turns up to conferences and book signings in bright coloured clothes or God forbid, High heels.
In the article she explains,
I had learned a lesson about Western culture: Women who wanted to be taken seriously were supposed to substantiate their seriousness with a studied indifference to appearance. For serious women writers in particular, it was better not to dress well at all, and if you did, then it was best to pretend that you had not put much thought into it. If you spoke of fashion, it had to be either with apology or with the slightest of sneers. The further your choices were from the mainstream, the better. The only circumstance under which caring about clothes was acceptable was when making a statement, creating an image of some sort to be edgy, eclectic, counterculture. It could not merely be about taking pleasure in clothes.
A good publisher had bought my novel. I was 26 years old. I was eager to be taken seriously. And so began my years of pretense. I hid my high heels. I told myself that orange, flattering to my skin tone, was too loud. That my large earrings were too much. I wore clothes I would ordinarily consider uninteresting, nothing too bright or too fitted or too unusual. I made choices thinking only about this: How should a serious woman writer be? I didn’t want to look as if I tried too hard. I also wanted to look older. Young and female seemed to me a bad combination for being taken seriously.
In her usual style, the self confessed lover of natural hair took us on a journey into her childhood in Nsukka, where her initial personal style was nurtured while taken inspiration from her mothers style. She explores the clash of culture between western and African women on what is considered fashionable and socially acceptable.
If you cast your mind back to your Uni days, remembering how many hours you spent in class sniggering at what your poor professor wore, you’ll agree that she’s certainly got a point.
Society, and the intellectual crowd as a whole have come to accept and expect some level of passiveness in ones sense of fashion as a rule of thumb when makiing a judgment on who’s smart and who isn’t.
Why can’t women be smart and still have a great sense of style?
Now the Nigerian author wears her yellow high heels proudly without a thought to what other people think, after all, she’s a genius, what does it matter what colour of shoes she wears?