Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

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Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Award winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

You might wonder why I am posting this lecture, well first of all after read her Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus I became a fan of her work, that is why I watched the video. But as she spoke about being a little girl in Nigeria and reading British novels (the only available to her) and how this lead her to believe that the only people, characters that could be in books looked nothing like her, did not speak, dress or eat like her, so much so that when she stared writing her own stories, she wrote her version of those British people, not of her own it struck a cord. She had never read a story about an African so she at the age of 7 assumed that those people, her people did not have a place in literature. It put me to mind about the Danger of the the Single Body. The Size 0, 5’9 woman often pre-pubescent and airbrushed has become in a way the single the Single Body or Image that we as women, as a people have come to believe in. Adichie states so eloquently “Show a people as only one thing, as only one thing over and over again and that is what they become” This is how the standard of beauty was created. It is in a way a stereotype of sorts. Adichie says that the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. The image of “Woman” in the fashion industry and the media is dangerously incomplete If we as women do not look like the media’s prescribed concept of beauty we do not exist.She also says “The consequence of the single story is that is rob people if their dignity” and hasn’t that been the case for most women, we constantly feel inadequate and broken, not enough or way too much.

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