Beauty · Guest Post · Women

Americanah

An excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (2013)

“So three Black women in maybe two thousand pages of women’s magazines and all of them biracial or racially ambiguous, so they could be Indian or Puerto Rican or something. Not one of them is dark. Not one of them looks like me, so I can’t get clues for makeup from these magazines. Look, this article tells you to pinch your cheeks for color because all their readers are supposed to have cheeks you can pinch for color. This tells you about different hair products for everyone—and everyone means blondes, brunettes, and redheads. I am none of those. And this tells you about the best conditioners—for straight, wavy and curly. No kinky. See what they mean by curly? My hair could never do that. This tells you about matching your eye color and eye shadow—blue, green, and hazel eyes. But my eyes are black so I can’t know what shadow works for me. This says that this pink lipstick is universal, but they mean universal if you are white because I would look like a golliwog if I tried that shade of pink. Oh look, here is some progress. An advertisement for foundation. There are seven different shades for white skin and one generic chocolate shade, but that is progress. Now let’s talk about what is racially skewed. Do you see why a magazine like Essence exists?”

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