"Our culture teaches us that if a woman wants to be taken seriously, that she's not supposed to care too much about her appearance. So for a while, I stopped wearing makeup and hid my high heels; I became a false version of myself.
But then I woke up. And I saw in full colour, and full confidence again. Because the truth is; makeup doesn't actually mean anything. It's simply makeup. It's about how I feel when I get it right. What makes me happy when I look in the mirror. What makes me walk ever so slightly taller. It's about the face I choose to show the world... and what I choose to say"
It's been about a year since I watched Chimamanda's TED talk on why we should all be feminists. A video which really inspired me, and acted as a catalyst in my identity as a feminist. After watching the video, Nigerian novelist and rising fashion icon, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, had become my role model.
And I'm so glad that she did. Young women deserve to have someone like her to look up to, who will speak their minds but also be honest about their past. Someone who teaches the world that superficial things don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Because whether someone wears bright pink lipstick and 6 inch heels or a business suit and minimal (if any) makeup should never determine his or her success.
Women shouldn't have to "defend or validate their love for fashion or beauty" in order to be taken seriously. Women should not need to dress like men in order to be seen and heard in the business world.
Over the past few years, I have loved having the freedom to use my clothes and makeup as a tool for expression and creativity. In a way, my image has become my form of art.
But there was one thing that I noticed when experimenting with different extremes of my image. When I wore pretty dresses and put on my candyfloss-pink lipstick, people seemed to treat me as if I was a bit ditsy. Strangers on the street would smile condescendingly as they walked past. And when I wore jeans and sports sweaters, my friends all asked where the "pretty" Sara had gone, and that I looked like I was going to the gym. I looked like a chav, a ned, whatever.
To be honest, I didn't really understand any of it. I still don't; simply because it doesn't make sense.
According to Motto, it's been "over a decade since (Chimamanda Nygozi Adiche) began living the truth that a fully woke and self-actualised woman can also love fashion and lipstick". I believe that's so important for people of any gender to understand. And I hope for a world where people do allow women to enjoy experimenting with their image without having to be subject to judgement from their peers- and strangers on the street.
We need to stop policing womens appearance.