Adichie Tells Women We Don't Have To Be Likable

by Emma Oulton

Women should now have the courage to be our badass selves, after Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made a feminist speech telling us not to worry about being likable. Adichie spoke at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards, and delivered a motivational talk urging young girls to make themselves heard and express themselves honestly, without agonizing over fitting in. The renowned writer explained that girls are told to “hold back sometimes,” and not “be too pushy, because you have to be likable,” before compellingly dismissing that as “bullshit.”

While she considers herself first and foremost a storyteller, Adichie would happily be considered a “feminist writer,” she told Ms magazine, as her feminist worldview is an important part of her work. Her empowering way of expressing her feminism is clear from her brilliant speech, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read her incredibly emotive writing before. An upfront and evocative writer herself, Adichie encourages all women to “tell your story honestly,” without being “so concerned with not offending…[which is] going to ruin your story.”

In light of the rather upsetting findings that books about women aren’t winning prizes, Adichie’s plea is more potent than ever. Society has a long way to go in terms of valuing women’s voices as highly as men, so it’s increasingly important for women to shrug off the pressure to be accepted, and tell our stories to the world in the way we want to.

While Adichie says women don’t have to be likable, she did go on to throw in some words of reassurance, preaching that “the world is such a wonderful, diverse, multifaceted place, that there’s somebody who’s going to like you. You don’t have to twist yourself into shapes.” Cue feminist air punch.