I’m not sure what rock I’ve been under that allowed me to somehow miss the rare beauty that is Chantal Biya, First Lady of Cameroon. But please believe me, following her recent appearance at the Leadership for Health Summit in Los Angeles, I’m sitting up and taking notice now.


Wow. All I can do is quote Tim Gunn. “That’s a lot of look!”

AfricanLoft phrases it more charitably – “Her fashion sense is very bold.” Yes indeed. I’ll go a step further and say her fashion sense is straight outta Dynasty. Most makeup artists will advise clients to choose a strong lip or a strong eye. Not both. Chantal Biya says to hell with those silly rules — her look can be described as opera diva. You can spot her a mile away.

Bold eyes. Bright lips. Blush like “blaow” on her cheekbones, and eyebrows that are calling out for Damone Roberts’ expert hand. It’s like she’s been shot with Homer Simpson’s makeup gun.

And then there’s the hair. Goodness gracious, then there’s the hair.

Drink it all in with the Telegraph’s 17-image slideshow of the First Lady. Boston Globe style writer Christopher Muther has called her “a saint of style,” and added “you can tell that the Pontiff was thinking “How can I grow my eyebrows like that” through the entire encounter,” during her meeting with the Pope.

Now here at Afrobella I strive for positive vibrations and constructive criticism, so I’ll just say — less is more. There’s no denying that Chantal Biya is a beautiful woman, but I think she manages to hide that by taking her look into a clownlike stratosphere. Just imagine what a makeunder would do — soften those unnatural brows, bring her hair two decades forward, and give her a subtler makeup look. She’d be a show stopper — in a much different way than she is now. But that’s just my opinion.

What do you think, bellas? Any style advice for Chantal Biya, or do you applaud her passion for fashion?

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teetah says:
April 28, 2009, 12:12 pm
She's a gorgeous lady. Kinda looks like her hair is in flames with all that auburn Domonique Devereaux feathering going on up top, though the shorter her hair and nearer she gets to Bozo the Clown red in the Telegraph photos, the more ridiculous her style choices seem. But you're right: all she needs is more mellow, modern hair and brows look and she'd still be stunning, crazy colorful dresses and all.
Jenene says:
April 28, 2009, 12:25 pm
A makeUNDER is definitely in order! Sashay Miss Biya!
Denise says:
April 28, 2009, 12:28 pm
Oh My! Is all I could think of when I saw her pics...well that and 'she reminds me of a cross between Tammy Fay Baker and Beyonce's mom, Tina Knowles.' Yeah, toning it down just a tad, may suit her well. But, she must definitely have a lot of confidence to stand out in a crowd like that, so That's kinda cool.
ceecee says:
April 28, 2009, 12:59 pm
I had a ball looking up Chantal Biya on Monday when I spotted pictures from the health summit. Apparently her hairstyle has been nicknamed 'Banane' by Camerounians, I have no clue what it means and they (Camerounians) love her over the top personality. Personally, I love that she doesn't subscribe to anyone's rules of style but hers. And her makeup is on point, overdone or not.
BSQUARED86 says:
April 28, 2009, 1:12 pm
I'm all for being bold, so in that respect I say, "Go girl!" BUT she's channelling the "Mean ol' Lion" from The Wiz with that hair.
Laquita says:
April 28, 2009, 1:39 pm
Wow - lol@Simpsons cartoon pic :o)
dee says:
April 28, 2009, 1:40 pm
She looks a hot mess. But as the First Lady of Cameroooooooon, I'm sure she could tone it down if she wanted to. Props to her for being true to herself even if it is out there.
b. says:
April 28, 2009, 1:40 pm
In some of the pictures, I kinda like her (overdone pizazz and all). But some of them, well, she needed to refresh. While her choice of style is hit or miss, her makeup is done to a "tee." It's funny how the earlier pictures are "plain" compared to the later ones. The women beside her look blah in comparison. I wouldn't mind seeing her in an updated version of over-the-top (whatever that is).
African Bella says:
April 28, 2009, 1:51 pm
She's a beautiful woman but if I were her, I'd keep it more natural. I'd tone down the hair and the eyebrows. I think this look adds years on to her 38 years. I must say it takes some guts to step out in this get up. I've seen pictures of her in other clothes. She really does have an elegant dress sense. It's just the hair and makeup that are too over the top for me.
Angie O says:
April 28, 2009, 1:54 pm
She looks like she'd be a lot of fun to hang out with. I like her fashion sense, but I'm not sure about that hair... an image of Mufasa definitely flashed before my eyes when I first saw that photo. The orange mane is better than her other 'do's though. She could keep the color, if she really wants, and just get a weave with less lift. I wonder what her real hair looks like...
Cheeky says:
April 28, 2009, 1:54 pm
I could never wear this look and I would not want to. However, that picture just makes me smile because she looks so happy and confident! Go girl!
paradisebird says:
April 28, 2009, 2:04 pm
Oh.This is an ...ahem interesting look. and it is a reminder of the old phrase that less is more. my goodness. i am speechless.
Joyce a camerooniangirl says:
April 28, 2009, 2:12 pm
I'm cameroonian and I can say that she has always followed her own rules. In the past, she fired people (hairstylists...) who wanted to tone down her look in order to give a certain image of a first lady. We were sometimes ashamed by her looks, by the way she represented us in the international scene, but we are used to now. After all, she is the indomitable lioness (the name of our soccer team is"the indomitable lions")in reference to her hair. She doesn't care about what people can think of her.She comes from an underpriviledged social background, maybe this why she doesn't dress like we can expect a first lady to do so. She wasn't really prepared to become a first lady, She doesn't have a big level of education, but she took up the challenge. This hairstyle is her signature look, she likes extravagant ones, bright colors, big hair,big nails that's her. She is not afraid to give her opinions, to talk her mind. We like her for what she is.
Joyce a camerooniangirl says:
April 28, 2009, 2:22 pm
@Angie O: When she became a First lady, she had long hair, she's a mixed race lady. I think that she was natural. I don't know if she is now, because we haven't seen her real hair for ages. She likes to sport weawes.
April 28, 2009, 3:47 pm
I love it. Too much is never enough. While I would not wear all of that is she likes it I love it. Maybe its fun to her. She's tall and can kinda pull it off. I wonder if this is a 24/7 thing or if she is wigless cleaned faced at home.
Veronica says:
April 28, 2009, 4:07 pm
Wow. It's almost like Cher channeling Beyonce. But she's confident as all get-out, so... go 'head, First Lady!
Sig says:
April 28, 2009, 4:34 pm
Yeah and you're all sitting at home or worse from work dissing her, while she... lmao
Kweenie says:
April 28, 2009, 5:01 pm
I think her image of a unique first lady is 'Marie Antoinette.' But she's a few hundred years too late. It's not a good look. Thank God for Michelle O.
Ms.Wifey says:
April 28, 2009, 5:13 pm
Only one thought comes to mind...Beyonce @ 45
Shell says:
April 28, 2009, 8:53 pm
I love her mane of hair. Wow. She is a beautiful woman. I do think if she took down her look, she even look more stunning.
Neesh says:
April 29, 2009, 1:42 am
I think she looks like a nut and i LOVE it!!! There's more than enough conformity in this world already.
Patience says:
April 29, 2009, 10:06 am
Girl is anybody else getting into the fact that homegirl is 38!!!!!!!!!! Gag! She looks 58 with all that mess on her face. Jaysus!
Niki says:
April 29, 2009, 10:20 am
She's 38?! Wow... I was about to say "do you, diva!" until I found out that she was that young. She ages herself 20 years with this look. You can tell that she is a pretty woman though.
styleosophy says:
April 29, 2009, 12:15 pm
She certainly is vibrant...yet beautiful. Ironically I think she would look much younger if she wore less makeup, and modernized her hairstyle. She already has a great fashion sense and wears her outfits tastefully.
AfriCan says:
April 29, 2009, 1:56 pm
Definitely has the African joie de vivre. I am going to echo the go 'head Ms. First Lady statement.
Franki says:
April 29, 2009, 5:41 pm
Chantal Biya is fierce as hell. Let her do her and worry about y'alls own make-up.
Jean Edd says:
April 29, 2009, 7:00 pm
I am from Cameroon and we love our first lady so,so much.The president got married to her after the loss of his first wife. Chantal came from a poor background but her sparkle,her flowery beauty, her very sweet,joyfull ,yet shy and humble personality, made her the presidents first choice. he was almost half her age at the time and people talked about the age thing sometimes,but was no big deal.After a few years every one was shocked because they had made her to get really fat. i mean almost double her size because they wanted her to look older,to at least feet the presidents age. She was about 27 years old at that time and from then, afer having kids, she remained looking older than she really is. she has been such a blessing and a sweet heart to the country for all these years ; fighting AIDS and poorverty , she is making a change in Africa. she has been there herself so she knows how hard it is for the poor. We love her , so,so much. as for her style... lol ,thats just chantal AND WE LOVE IT.....so proud of you Chantal Biya. You are so dear to our heart and we love you.
Naturally Alise says:
April 29, 2009, 7:14 pm
The pic threw me off at first bc I really thought it was a drag queen, she looks like a clown, I need to make a call to Stacy and Clinton...
Sumatra77 says:
April 29, 2009, 8:54 pm
I think it's awesome. In all those pictures, she's really the only one you see. If she were toned down, we won't be talking about her right now. I'm sure she knows it's a lot, and doesn't care. Having said that, I think she'd be gorgeous with a lot less going on.
L says:
April 29, 2009, 9:31 pm
Go ahead with your bad self 1st Lady Biya! Thank you Afrobella, I needed this - these pictures made my day!
Ebony Intuition says:
April 29, 2009, 11:07 pm
She's lovely but its a tad too much.
saro says:
April 30, 2009, 7:14 am
Not my style but I like that she's so over the top. It makes the world more interesting...
tayari says:
April 30, 2009, 8:59 am
I just loved the slideshow at the Telegraph. She's being herself and it's not hurting anyone. And besides, she looks like she is having a great time.
LaJane Galt says:
April 30, 2009, 11:02 am
I'm obsessed with the way her hair waves upward into the bouffant. She is so bad...she is good.
LaJane Galt says:
April 30, 2009, 11:07 am
The more I think about it...she would be a badass candidate for Viva Glam. Black First Ladies are having the best year ever.
No thanks says:
April 30, 2009, 10:42 pm
If she really is working for good in Cameroon, then I applaud her actions. Her look, however, is disgusting. I hate to think that this woman is parading around the world as an example of a Black woman. The photo of her in Japan was particularly horrific, considering that they have little contact with Black people. She visited LA recently and the LA Times photo of all of the African first ladies was marred by her inclusion. While she certainly has the right to look like a steaming hot shiny mess, she also has the responsibility to carry herself in a way that represents us well. Stop the madness! Get a hose and wash it all off...
Mama says:
May 1, 2009, 6:07 am
@Jean : "I am from Cameroon and we love our first lady so,so much"???????????? Are you joking? Cameroonians love Chantal Biya so so much? Speak for you! The majority of the Cameroonians confronted with the poverty make fun of Chantal Biya and only dream about the departure of her husband in the power since 1982!!! And during this time America is talking about her look! Vraiment!!! Chantal Biya, of Cameroonian mother and French father (white) comes from a very very poor environment. Beautiful and fine at first, she was enlarged to make "older" (because the president is older lol !). Side elegance of her first ladies, Cameroon was on the top with Germaine Ahidjo (woman of the first president of the country) and Irene Biya, first Paul Biya's wife (died), the current president for 27 years! Yes this blog speaks about beauty, you doubtless ignore the history and the everyday life of the African countries, but a little of thought for the millions of Cameroonians who suffer everyday because we have some "Chantal and Paul Biya" in the head of our countries, and see the world chattering about Chantal Biya's hair style or look !!!
Ericka says:
May 1, 2009, 10:09 am
Wow. I had never heard (or seen) Madame Biya before this. She looks confident, passionate and fun. If she likes how she looks, I say rock on. More is more is clearly her philosophy and I think she does it pulling it out all the stops. Her makeup is wild and loud but well applied. She brings a smile to my face looking at her, not just the pretty colors and the hair (that volume is crazy! I do love volume), but the sense of self confidence and joy she emotes.
Tricia says:
May 1, 2009, 11:21 am
I am all for anyone not being restricted in their style choices - so Mrs. Biya's over the top style is fine by me. The makeup and hair does age her and detract from her natural beauty, but if that's what she wants to do... then she can do it. However, I couldn't help but to wonder, as I looked through the Telegraph's slideshow, about the effect her style has on her duties to represent her country? A First Lady usually has some responsibility to represent her nation to the world, and I can't help but to feel that on some level, her extravagant style might undermine any effort to represent the concerns of her nation in the global stage. Having her own style is great but I think the style of a First Lady should be somewhat strategic - if it detracts from her beauty, then fine - but it shouldn't detract (or distract, because she is definitely distracting!) from the issues facing the country that need to be discussed globally.
From Princess to a Queen says:
May 1, 2009, 2:28 pm
Why does anyone feel the need to comment on the looks of another? Afrobella, I would have NEVER EVER expected you to do such a post and to even make your points about constructive criticism, SMDH. I bet you can count the times someone near and dear to YOU gave you some constructive criticism on your decision to go NATURAL. Wow to make comments about how you thing another person could "improve" their look and ask others to comment on it- again Afrobella how and WHY did you do this?
Goldenah says:
May 1, 2009, 11:51 pm
I'm sure she's pretty, but her look is between drag queen and crazy lady. I hope she is helping the people of her country. Frankly, I don't care what she is or who she is. My first impression was that of a man wearing a clown costume. I'm just surprised she's the first lady of anything.
LBell says:
May 2, 2009, 8:43 pm
I can't believe she's actually YOUNGER than me. Now I know what I need to do to look my age.
Brown Sugar says:
May 4, 2009, 9:52 pm
Oh my! I thought she was a drag queen too. lol. A lot of look is an understatement. SMH...
michelle says:
May 16, 2009, 6:07 pm
no she is not of mixed race she was dark skin. SHE BLEACHED HER SKIN WHITE.
Sarah D says:
August 22, 2009, 10:01 am
We've got to give it to Chantal for bravery if nothing else. I'm digging her confidence and a bit of OTT never killed anyone and Michelle; Yes she is mixed race.
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