I remember “fighting” with Chika Unigwe on twitter over the merits of being a makeup girl versus a shoe-loving girl. She said something about making up being laborious and shoes being such divine things.

To cut long story short, I lost the battle. I would later find out that, in addition to being a brilliant novelist, Chika is famous for her to-die-for shoe collection.

Chimamanda, it appears, is on #TeamMakeup…just like me. She suggests as much in an interview posted on Thandie Newton’s beauty and fashion blog called Thandiekay. An amazing project, by the way—a collaboration with make up artist Kay Montano.

The British-Zimbabwean actress and Chimamanda know each other from the Half of a Yellow Sun film project. In the interview Chimamanda shares her thoughts on beauty, cosmetics, and what she finds delightful about making up.

Scroll down and start reading. 

You’re probably wondering: what does this have to do with literature?

My answer: don’t be an unimaginative boor!  Lol. Enjoy!

Chimamanda doing her hair

1. What is your earliest make-up memory?

Six years old, at my mother’s wonderfully cluttered dressing table in Nsukka, trying on her very sticky lip gloss.

2. I feel most beautiful when…

I am in a good mood; I am fit and exercising regularly; I am wearing stable high heels; I have managed to do a flawless ‘cat-eye.’

3. When you were a child, what was your Mother’s beauty routine?

She moisturized her entire body very diligently. Ashy skin was unacceptable. I remember watching her after her bath, how she would reach across her shoulder, hand coated in cream, to get as much of her back as she could. She liked perfumes. There were heady scents in her bedroom. I remember the green POISON, the fawn CHLOE. She wore perfume to sleep. There was nail polish, powder compacts, eye pencils. She always wore tasteful makeup. My mother is one of the most beautiful people I know, and I thought so even as a child.

4. Is make-up a chore or a delight?

It’s become an absolute delight. I was once interested only in the most minimal makeup – colorless mascara, that sort of thing – but became more interested in make-up when I started using it to try and look a little older. I was so tired of being told I looked like a child. Now, I like to try new things, and I like the temporary transformation that make-up can bring.

5. Did your father refer to your Mother’s beauty, and how?

Yes. “Nekene nne unu,” he would say – “look at your mother!’ – when my mother was all dressed for church on Sunday mornings, sequinned george wrapper on her waist, a sparkly blouse, a beautifully-structured gele on her head. She knew he thought she was beautiful, you could tell.

6. What’s been your worst beauty mishap?

I once decided I wanted a funky afro. So I colored my hair in my bathroom, with three different color kits because the first two didn’t quite show. The result was orange hair. But what brought despair was how dry and brittle my hair became.

7. If you could give one beauty gift what would it be?

A good facial moisturiser.

8. Where’s the craziest place you’ve done your make-up?

In a narrow train toilet, although that was less crazy and more uncomfortable.

9. What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?

A greater range of colors (and undertones) in foundations and tinted moisturisers. A greater awareness that dark-skinned women have enormous buying power and are as much interested in beauty as anyone else.

10. When was the last time your mascara ran, and why?

Some years ago in my hometown. It was very hot, I’d been outside for a while, and suddenly felt a gooey heaviness around my eyes.

 

 —Do visit thandiekay.com. It’s divinely inspirational.

 Photo from Taiye Selasi’s Instagram—collection of the most striking photography. 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Chimamanda on Eating Healty, Shoes, And Her Obsession With Hair Blogs — Elle Magazine Q&A | Brittle Paper - 2014/02/17

    […] Last year, Chimamanda shared her philosophy on make up and cosmetics with the British-Zimbabwean actress Thandie Newton. If you missed it, read it {HERE}. […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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