Chimamanda Adichie wants you to know women can love makeup and still be serious

The faces of beauty brands are typically reserved for traditional superstars — actresses, pop stars, and models. Badass author and feminist Chimamanda Adichie is one of the exceptions as the ambassador for No. 7. It may not seem like a big deal because it’s makeup, but to have a dark-skinned author who isn’t uber famous representing beauty for an international company is a step in the right direction toward a more inclusive beauty industry. Adichie has some intriguing thoughts on makeup, women caring about their appearance, and beauty standards for young girls.

The Americanah author told Racked one of the reasons she said yes to No. 7 despite her initial apprehension was because she wants people to know women who love makeup can also talk intelligently about more serious topics. “But I think in the larger sense I wanted to be part of the message that women who like makeup also have important and serious things that they’re doing in their lives,” she said. “And that those can co-exist, that women are a multiplicity of things. I think it’s time to really stop that ridiculous idea that somehow if you’re a serious woman you can’t and should not care about how you look.”

Women know this; anyone with a brain knows this, really.

A woman who spends excessive hours on YouTube trying to master the perfect brow can also be well-versed in climate change or international policy. The two aren’t mutually exclusive because women contain a multitude of layers. Unfortunately, there are still imbeciles who think a woman enjoying makeup is superficial and shallow.

Adichie said she experienced firsthand not being taken seriously because she cared about her appearance. “When I moved to the U.S. and I was publishing my first novel, I had quickly realized that for a woman to be taken seriously and to be seen as a ‘serious intellectual person’ she couldn’t possibly look as though she cared a lot about her appearance.” I’m willing to bet any amount of money that only men think this way.

Adichie obviously rejected such silliness. “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,” she told Racked. “I think that changed just with getting older, getting more comfortable in my own skin, and realizing that life is so damn short. There is just no point in living life based on what you imagine people expect.”

Adichie also talked about the sadness she feels for dark-skinned girls who don’t “come to peace” with their skin tone until later in life. She supports Alicia Keys’s no makeup movement, but said it wouldn’t be for her because she loves wearing lipstick. And, she had some thoughts on the sexism that framed Hillary Clinton’s image.

By far the greatest takeaway are her thoughts on moralizing makeup in a way that doesn’t happen with traditionally masculine things. She says:

“As I mourn, and for me the election result is a case for mourning, I still want to know what moisturizer will keep my winter skin from being too dry. One of the things that I think is important is that we shouldn’t moralize makeup. I find that in many cultures there’s almost a moral thing around makeup and appearance for women. I think we just need to get away from it. And also the idea that for men the things that are considered traditionally masculine are not things that our culture dismisses as frivolous. I wish I had a real answer but I don’t. 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 makeup and fashion don’t. And I find myself questioning that more and more.”

And this is why No. 7 is lucky to have her as the face of its brand. Relatable, pretty, smart, and a fierce champion for women.