Chidera Eggerue Accuses Florence Given Of Copying Her Book On Modern Feminism
Twitter is demanding that Author of 'Women Don't Owe You Pretty' to take accountability.
Florence Given is a 21-year-old artist and author who won Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year Award in 2019. Her book, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is the Instagram feminist handbook “for anyone who wants to challenge the out-dated narrative supplied to us by the patriarchy” according to the blurb.
But recently Given and her book has come under fire. The influencer and author of How To Get Over A Boy, Chidera Eggerue, publicly called out Given on Instagram claiming that Given had copied her work and the work of black women and repackaged it in a pretty book for white women. Eggerue’s first book, What A Time To Be Alone was released in 2018, How To Get Over A Boy followed in February 2020 and Women Don’t Owe You Pretty was released in June 2020.
Eggerue also goes by the name The Slumflower and she started the popular #SaggyBoobsMatter movement. Both authors have a strong following, promoting body positivity and feminism. They encourage self-love, setting boundaries and defying the patriarchy. But Eggerue believes the similarities in their books are no coincidence.
She points out that one of her chapters is titled ‘I do not owe anybody pretty’, a striking resemblance to the title of Given’s book. But perhaps the most noticeable similarity is their colorful design. She uploaded pictures of both books side-by-side to her Instagram stories and pointed out the same use of bold color and striking illustrations.
But she also states that her anger is directed towards the publishing industry and systematic discrimination in general. She said “black women continue to pave the way, set the trends and set the pace”. She accuses the publishing industry of white supremacy because white women repackage black narratives and receive all the ‘flowers’ and ‘praise’. She went on to call out search engine algorithms too, when searching for ‘chidera eggerue book’ on Google, the first book to appear is Given’s book followed by Eggerue’s own two books. She said “the white woman’s copy is placed before mine in the ad results with 5 stars. The devil works hard but white supremacy works harder”.
Rounding up her discussion, she flicked to the acknowledgments of Given’s book where Given had noted the women she had been inspired by, all of the nine women are black (including Eggerue). Although Eggerue doesn’t believe Given is a “bad person” she does want her to take accountability. It appears as though Florence hijacked the narratives of the very black women she highlights.
Fans were quick to respond on Twitter, blowing up with a hot discussion.
The thing with Florence Given having more of a platform than black women /POC & oppressed members of the LGBTQ+ community just reinforces the idea inclusive feminism is only attractive to people when it’s packaged in a way that still puts white privileged women at the forefront— Mollie Clarke (@king__spinach) December 7, 2020
the thing about florence given for me is - and i admit this may be entirely because of my own limitations - but there's only so much credibility i can see in a statement like 'women don't owe you pretty' when it comes from a blonde, thin, very conventionally beautiful posh girl— susie 🕯️ (@ofarmsandaman) December 6, 2020
I think the overall take from the Florence Given discourse is that aesthetic activism is at its core hollow and performative, putting a feminist statement in a pretty font does nothing to actually dismantle white supremacy and the patriarchy— kit 🌹 (@edgerley_kitty) December 9, 2020
Re Florence given. The discussion is not even about the content of her book, or the fact it was even published. It’s the fact that a black woman wrote that book first, got half the sales and FG’s team marketed it so that anyone searching for Chidera’s name would see Florence too— sara (@sararoebuckx) December 10, 2020
Twitter users called Given ‘performative’, ‘fiat 500 feminism’ and importantly, one user suggests that Given reinforces the idea that “inclusive feminism is only attracted to people when it’s packaged in a way that still puts white privileged women at the forefront”.
Moya Lothian McLean wants us to take our anger out on the publishing industry. She points out that this narrative has been around for years and calls this repackaged narrative ‘Instagram feminism’ which means “hawking ideas that have almost certainly been taken from academics and activists - usually older women of color - and then regurgitating them via an aesthetically pleasing Instagram title”.
She points out that Given and Eggerue share an agent and management team so it doesn’t seem a far stretch to say that both women and their ideals have been packaged in the same mould. Through no fault of their own, young women are being pressured to succeed with limited life experience, “why are publishing houses and influencer agencies building personality cults around young women who have barely begun to live and not expecting the entire thing to go sour?” McLean asks. She accuses the publishing industry of inadequately equipping young female authors for the inevitable criticism, “when you attach such big promises to people, people expect equally big returns - and are hyper-aware of any failure to deliver on those. It’s setting up young women, armed only with eye-catching illustrations and some 101 feminist ideas, to fail. But publishing houses and agents with one eye on their commission benefit, individual impact be damned”.
However, this discussion is less to do with the individual women and their content, but more to do with systematic discrimination. The most important aspect of this discussion is that black women spearheaded this narrative and receive considerable less credit and praise. Having said that, although Given may not be sorely to blame, it’s time she took accountability or at least, responded to claims.