Here’s Some Solid Life Advice: Forget About Being ‘Likable’

By
Photo: Rune Hellestad/Corbis

Acclaimed writer (and resident Bey Hive feminist) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just dropped another piece of highly quotable advice.

In a speech at the 2015 Girls Write Now awards ceremony, Adichie said:

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, so forget about likability. And also the world is such a wonderful, diverse, and multifaceted place that there’s somebody who’s going to like you; you don’t need to twist yourself into shapes.

Sure, this speech was directed to young girls, but as Adichie acknowledged, grown women struggle with this stuff, too. I, personally, will write this on a Post-it and stick it to my bathroom mirror, but if Beyoncé wanted to go ahead remix this audio sample into a new anthem, women of all ages could benefit greatly.