Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally.

If there’s any writer who can write hard-hitting essays as persuasively and compellingly as novels and short stories and make them utterly readable it is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. To say, I have read all her work would be an understatement. I have devoured each one of her work and cannot quite point which one I like the best; hence it was natural that I added Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions to my Chimamanda collection.

This book is a quick read with 15 actionable steps to raise a strong and empowered daughter. It shines with Chimamanda’s characteristic warmth and forthrightness but is deeply personal. According to Chimamanda, her friend Ijeawele wrote to ask how she should bring her baby daughter up a feminist, and in response, after the right hesitations – “it felt like too huge a task”– Adichie made this list of 15 suggestions.

I would say that this book should be an essential read to women (and men) everywhere and not just mums with girls—because it would help us to develop more empathy and fine tune our mind on how patriarchy catches up—often unaware. And yes it would help us to raise stronger girls and wiser boys.

For eons, women (and men) have been taught how we need to behave. Girls should be softer and men should be more aggressive. And no matter what women have been taught to be more likable (or risk being tagged Nasty woman, cue Hillary V/S Trump). But this book helps us to identify these unconscious biases and give it a massive f*** you. It also tells us how to defy the societal norms and standards to become your own person.

I wrote about the infamous Nasty Woman episode, a few lines ago. Why? One of the advice in the book is to reject likeability. Easier said than done, I painfully learn even now. I have never been the cool, popular kid, never been the one to succumb to peer pressure and in the face have rejected likeability but even today in moments of honest introspection—I often wonder if I am liked enough by my set of girlfriends, my colleagues, even my family for that matter. See, how unconsciously these societal standards affect us?

Human beings are cultural beings, consistently shaped by ideas and values around us. Throughout history and even in art and culture, we see likeability a major factor (especially for women). Women are unconsciously raised to become people-pleaser. And we need to stop doing this to ourselves and our future generation because as another wise woman said, “Well-behaved women, rarely made history”. 

The other suggestions in the book– about marriage, motherhood, and reading  as well as the often told ‘because you are a girl’, is never a reason for anything” also make equal sense and they all come with personal anecdotes.

I repeat this book is an essential and urgent read. Why? Because to raise feminist daughters (or sons), mothers must take pleasure and pride in their own achievements, follow both the challenges and delights of life and give themselves room to fail. Because ultimately, as Adichie writes, children must be raised to be full people. 

As a self-confessed shopping addict and fashion lover, I must say shopping for me is the greatest pleasure-seeking activity! I shop–when I am happy, when I am frustrated, when I have had a bad at work, when I have had a really good day and sometimes just because I can. The other day, after a cleaning spree, channelised by watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, I realised that I actually have clothes enough to fit a little town. This made me uncomfortable.

This discomfort is amplified when I read about how fast-fashion is destroying the planet. If you have been living under a rock for all these months and have missed these reports, here are some sobering facts:

These numbers are staggering and if the fashion industry and fashion lovers like me do not take this seriously, we would just end up contributing to this problem more.

I have taken a conscious decision that I would stop impulse shopping and only buy things I genuinely need. The key thing I would ask myself before buying a garment would be: Will I be wearing it at least 20 times? The other thing, I have promised myself is that I would restyle and recycle clothes. I am actually quite excited about the restyling element because it means really expanding my style creativity to come up with various looks without buying anything.

breton top style

So, this is exactly what I did whilst on holiday recently. Instead of buying “at least one new piece of garment for the holiday” I decided to restyle my old Breton (striped) top. This is an old one and you can see how I wore this few years ago (pictured above). Breton top is one of those classic style items which every woman should have in their wardrobe simply because they are versatile.

This time, I wore the top with a skirt and red boots both which I bought last year.

So, you see you do not have to keep buying stuff in order to be fashionable/stylish/trendy/happy. I know this promise to buy something only if I really need it, is going to be a tough one but I am determined to make it work.

And yes as I just showed you, you can be stylish and save the planet too because hey it’s the only one we got.

Thank you for reading. Hope you liked the post. Don’t forget to follow me. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter .

Dear A,

Despite my best attempts, I cannot keep time still. There is nothing more I want than asking time to slow down a little so you and I can enjoy your childhood a little more. You, darling child, have started asking some mind-boggling questions: Like why are there no girls in your football class? what happens to people when they leave this world? Why your best friend (who is a boy) not interested in ballet? I love these questions and these are just somethings I want you to learn, in no particular order.

  1. You can like dolls. You can like spiderman. And both are fine.
  2. There is nothing like a boy colour and girl colour. Colours are fun, enjoy them.
  3. People will eventually forget who you are but never how you made them feel. Make their memories unforgettable (in a nice way).
  4. Kick ass and don’t be a kiss ass.
  5. Rebel (but try not to do it against me) ;).
  6. Laugh, breathe and let go.
  7. Learn to deal with failures.
  8. Failures don’t make you but neither does success.
  9. Comparisons will steal your joy.
  10. Some girls will have sugar daddies. Don’t be that girl. Work hard and carve your own path.
  11. Despite what they say, feminism is not a bad word.
  12. Do silly things.
  13. Travel.
  14. Run, dance, lift weights. Move your body,  Love your body. It is the only vessel you have. Valentines Day unique ideas
  15. Love food. Don’t make it your enemy.
  16. Have friends from all walks of life.
  17. Speaking of friends; always remember quality over quantity.
  18. Sunscreen and some kohl. And of course red lipstick.
  19. Looks do fade. Character doesn’t.
  20. Love unconditionally. Love deeply. And Love yourself.
  21. Be strong, be gentle and be brave.
  22. Be your own cheerleader.
  23. Don’t dumb yourself down for anyone.
  24. Be Kind. Always.
  25. Be proud but not arrogant.
  26. Use your voice.
  27. You matter.
  28. If someone tells you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl, do it anyway, and do it better.

  29. Learn to say no.
  30. Love does conquer all.

With love, always

Your mum.