Adichie discusses identity a lot in Americanah. Hair is a huge part of identity, and dialogues about natural, braided, and relaxed hair are common through the novel. Cultural identity and how to retain it is another major theme. The reader watches several characters, including Ifemelu, Obinze, and Aunty Uju, struggle through crises of identity when they move to a new country. Both Obinze and Ifemelu spend some time working under someone else’s name, which makes it even more difficult to hold on to one’s true self.
Another big aspect of Ifemelu’s identity, perhaps a bit less developed but no less important than other parts, is her blog. Ifemelu’s blogging was an extension of herself, a way for her to vent when needed and share her experiences with other people. She was free to write about anything, and she was allowed to be as sarcastic as she wanted. She could start important dialogues and show people different points of view. With her new job at Zoe, all of that freedom is in the past. She goes through interview after interview that are basically the same; she even wonders if she could write an accurate article without even interviewing the woman she was writing about. The expectations of her boss make her feel trapped. Now, of course, Aunty Onenu reserves the right to moderate Ifemelu’s writing, as it is her publication, but this is still a major loss of identity. As her time at Zoe drags on, she has to deal with bickering, annoying coworkers and regulations on her writing, and she isn’t able to blog about her frustrations the way she used to. If she still had her blog, she could’ve written a snappy post about how women are conditioned to tear each other down or how important the freedoms of speech and press are, or something similarly important and relevant. Ifemelu is not a passive, quiet woman, and without the ability to express herself, a large piece of her identity is stifled.