Nigerian novelist and renowned feminist thinker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a beautiful speech at the 2015 Girls Write Now awards ceremony about the pitfalls of pursuing likability.

Women are taught from a young age to be inoffensive, Adichie explains, which can ultimately stunt our growth as human beings, preventing us from leading fully self-actualized lives:

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[.]

Bullshit, indeed. Watch her full remarks below.


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

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