June 4, 2015

Forget About Being “Likable.” {Inspiring Video}

chimamanda (640x360)

I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I have excellent company among her millions of readers, listeners and admirers.

The Nigerian author of award-winning novels (“Americanah” and “Half a Yellow Sun” her best known) was honored last month at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards. Her short speech, delivered to loud applause, addressed the standard of “likability” plaguing women and girls today.

You can watch the full speech below, but the core of it is this:

“I think it’s important to tell your story truthfully, and I think that’s a difficult thing to do—to be truly truthful. Because it’s only natural to be concerned about offending people or possible consequences[…]

I think that what our society teaches young girls, and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women and self-professed feminists to shrug off, is that idea that likability is an essential part of you, of the space you occupy in the world, that you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy, because you have to be likable.

And I say that’s bullshit.

So what I want to say to young girls is forget about likability. If you start thinking about being likable you are not going to tell your story honestly, because you are going to be so concerned with not offending, and that’s going to ruin your story…”

In my opinion, Adichie is the best advocate the feminist movement could ask for. She says everything I want to, only better than I ever could. And she says many, many other things I hadn’t thought of and makes me think.

If I had a daughter, I would want her to have a role model like this. Strong, brilliant, and totally unafraid to ruffle feathers.

I agree wholeheartedly with her thoughts on likability here.

How many times have I personally said something to be “nice;” that is, to be “likable?” How many times have I said nothing for the same reason? How many times have I worried about publishing something “controversial?” How many times have I chosen harmony over truth (in typical Libra fashion)?

How many times have I allowed others to think me “sweet,” when really I wanted them to know I was strong?

How many times has wanting (consciously or not) to be “likable” made decisions for you?

This is what we should be teaching girls; forget about likability.

Thank you, Chimamanda Adichie, for expressing it so perfectly.


Relephant Read:

Strong is the New Pretty. {36 Powerful Images Celebrating what it is to Be a Girl}


Author: Toby Israel

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Youtube


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