Sex & Gender

chimamanda ngozi adichie: “society teaches young girls to hold back, that’s bullshit.”

June 8, 2016

Next to Toni Morrison, Audra Lorde, and Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the only people who actually matters. I’m kidding, of course, but not really. One of her most resonate and relative comments on female empowerment from last year came during a speech she gave while being honored by Girls Write Now—the acclaimed, nationally recognized NYC-based writers mentorship organization for girls—where Adichie spoke about the importance for girls and women to chuck the notion of likability in favor of authenticity: a pivotal trait required to tell our stories. “What our society teaches young girls, and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women & 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 (…) And I say that’s bullshit.”

Watch Adichie’s motivational speech down below.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at