Sunday, October 05, 2008

Most Gorgeous Nigerian Women (apparently live abroad...)










I will bracket the concern whether there should be these lists of people classified by their physical attractiveness at all (I admit I'm a sucker for People Magazine's the 50 Most Beautiful People), but let me speak to another concern. As I read through the "artville" section in today's Leadership "Most Gorgeous Nigerian Women" by Zully Abdul, I was struck by the fact that with the exception of Nollywood actresses Dakore Egbuson and Genevieve Nnaji and possibly model Agbani Darego, the women (12 out of 15) featured here live and have careers outside of Nigeria. Now of course I am in favour of celebrating the achievements (beauty, career, or otherwise) of Nigerians wherever they may reside and I am uncomfortable with "more authentic than thou" arguments; however, what does this list say about the standards used in judgment and what does this mean to the target audience, which I assuming would be women living in Nigeria where print copies of Leadership are distributed? Is it that there is a paucity of "gorgeous" women who actually live and work in this country???? I've seen women just as gorgeous if not more so among my students at Bayero, singing in church, designing clothing in tailor shops, or sitting behind the counter at an MTN shop. (Granted these sorts of lists generally deal with glamourous public figures, but are there not at least 7 or 8 gorgeous and glamourous Nigerian women living in Nigeria?) What does this list say to Nigerian women in Nigeria who would like to be seen as "gorgeous"? That they must get visas and go appear in American music videos, Hollywood films, and Italian runways? And looking at these women, what does it say about what beauty is? All of these women appear to have straightened hair (with the exception of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ), they all appear to be wearing Western-style clothing, most of them seem to be fairly light skinned, and they are all rail thin....

It's not that I don't think these women are "gorgeous." I think they are. I also think there is a place for celebrating the accomplishments of expatriate Nigerians. But when there is so much beauty and creativity all around us here in Nigeria, why can't at least half of the "most gorgeous Nigerian women" highlighted here be ones living at home?

A related kvetch. Style. Nigerians have absolutely amazing styles. When I come to Nigeria from the U.S. I tend to leave most of my Western clothes there and just have clothing tailored here. When I go back to the U.S., one of the things I miss the most is getting to dress in beautifully designed, floor-sweeping skirts/wrappers whenever I like. But, and I noticed this while grading 113 gender analyses of Nigerian newspaper articles, it seems that often when 'style' is discussed in Nigerian newspapers it is more often about how to wear "skinny jeans," V-neck blouses, spagetti strap tank tops, etc. The photographs featured and advice given are (to pick a random number that seems about right) usually about 70% on 'Western' style. (I'm talking specifically of newspapers and not magazines like Ovation, which features a good deal of glamourous "traddie"). Now I think people should wear whatever they want and there is a case to be made that if it is worn by a Nigerian it becomes Nigerian style, but at the same time, it strikes me that there is something not quite right here...

3 comments:

pam said...

they just echo what is read in cosmo, marie claire, vogue and the rest.

In some cases they use the exact pictures and murder the text in a lame attempt to make it look original.

My vex is that newspapers arent even readable anymore.

pam said...

love your blog

Indigenous Productions said...

Someone said to me that Most of the Nigerian style magazines don't cover style they just cover personalities. I believe her because half of the things in the magazines are very pretentious. I really dislike most of the style magazines in Nigeria