It’s a wonderful feeling to be moved by someone’s writing, and one of the women who really moves me is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The author — who counts Beyoncé as a fan! — has written a series of books and short stories that address the delicate space of femininity, feminism and female power, such as Americanah, which won the National Book Award for fiction in 2013, and We Should All Be Feminists, which was inspired by a TEDx talk she gave by the same name that empowered multiple generations of women to reconsider what it means to be a woman in today’s world. So far, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech has been viewed over five million times.
I was first drawn to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work when I read an essay she wrote in Elle titled “Why Can’t a Smart Girl Love Fashion?” in 2014. Even though our backgrounds are so different — she grew up in Nigeria, whereas I grew up in Wisconsin — I found myself relating to her in so many ways through her words: We were both inspired by the strength and style of our mothers, we both love a feminine aesthetic, we both want to make an impact with our work and we both created a pretense in our industry to ensure that our work was taken seriously.
As I learned more about her and followed her since, I couldn’t help but look to her as a woman who completely embodies The Works. She’s multifaceted in so many regards, not only as a successful author, but also as a mother, wife, daughter and activist. That’s why I often use her story as an example to women I coach in what it means to bring your whole self to the table to achieve success and fulfillment.
In terms of Intellect, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie respects and pays tribute to how her roots and journey have shaped her values and experiences, which she celebrates through her work; she applies her Emotional Intelligence to each of her projects, tapping her unbridled passion for pushing the cultural conversation about feminism forward; and she carved out a Personal Style that is uniquely her — and more importantly, she owns it, constantly reiterating in her writing and speeches how much her colorful, vibrant and bright fashion choices brings her joy and happiness. All three of these dimensions work in unison for Adichie in helping her carve out a space in the crowded feminist writer world that’s all her own.
Plus, she’s an inspiring writer, whether she’s talking about feminism or she’s talking about clothes — and she does both often. In fact, I bookmarked this quote she shared with Elle about the power of fashion to bring joy:
“Perhaps it is the confidence that comes with being older. Perhaps it is the good fortune of being published and read seriously, but I no longer pretend not to care about clothes. Because I do care. I love embroidery and texture. I love lace and full skirts and cinched waists. I love black, and I love color. I love heels, and I love flats. I love exquisite detailing. I love shorts and long maxidresses and feminine jackets with puffy sleeves. I love colored trousers. I love shopping.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is as motivating as it gets when it comes to a woman who tells it like it is, which is why I can’t help but look to her as an example of The Works, both for myself and my clients. Plus, I highly recommend that you follow her Instagram @chimamanda_adichie for an endless feed of cool, colorful ensembles!
Watch her TEDx talk below for some real tell-it-like-it-is advice.
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