Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the new face of a Boots No7 make-up campaign

Most beauty campaigns feature a celebrity with mysteriously windy hair standing in a pristine white room while muttering corporate aphorisms like, “Beauty is only skin deep, but moisture is deeper!” The tired tropes in advertising make it truly exciting that the award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is the face of Boots No7 make-up as part of its new campaign. Unsurprisingly, her interview with Vogue revealed that she is armed with fresh and intelligent ideas about how make-up brands can market without resorting to condescension.

The Macarthur Genius Grant recipient and internationally celebrated novelist’s debut campaign with Boots No.7 launches on Friday, and the combination of Adiche’s vision and the campaign itself places more emphasis on women cultivating healthy and playful relationships with make-up (if they choose to use makeup). This is a refreshing departure from the all too common marketing tactics of blatant manipulation, in which women are seduced into buying products by a company that coyly feeds women a list of body flaws that can only be fixed by X product.

In her interview, Adiche shared that she used to struggle with the contradictions of loving make-up and being a committed feminist, before she realized that like most constructs of conventional femininity, cosmetics can be a tool women use on their own terms.

She told Vogue:

I love make-up and its wonderful possibilities for temporary transformation. And I also love my face after I wash it all off. There is something exquisitely enjoyable about seeing yourself with a self-made new look. And for me that look is deeply personal. It isn’t about what is in fashion or what the rules are supposed to be. It’s about what I like.”

She went on to share about how the ability to find joy in both the transformative and artistic aspect of make-up doesn’t have to involve insecurities or discomfort with your naked face. But obviously, the decision to engage in cosmetic beauty play is a deeply personal choice and should neither be swayed by a feminist pressure to abstain or a beauty industry pressure to engage.

In Vogue’s November 2016 Real Issue, in an article titled “The New Face of Beauty: You,” Adiche shared about her issues with the condescension of most advertising aimed towards women — particularly beauty advertising:

“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.”

Truth be told, despite my love of make-up, it’s difficult to embrace any form of advertising that harnesses modes of empowerment in order to push a brand. However, as a lover of Adiche’s writing who still engages in the consumerism of the beauty industry, I’d also like to see less infantilizing advertising, and to that, I raise my glass.