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BellaOnline's African American Lit Editor

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Be a Phenomenal Woman

Guest Author - Sonya L. Wilson

One of my absolutely most favorite poems is Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”. The lyric is beautiful and I enjoy the fact that the poem celebrates African American women and perhaps all women. Reading the poem makes me believe that I truly am a “phenomenal” woman. We all can be. There is a lot to celebrate in “Phenomenal Woman”

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size


How often do we, as women agonize over how we look, how much we weigh, our hair, our sex life and on and on and on. It’s not that we shouldn’t strive to improve ourselves if we so desire but I love the fact that the poem suggests to us that maybe, just maybe we are okay just the way we are.

But when I start to tell them,
The think I’m telling lies.


Sad as it is, sometimes, we as women look down on our sisters because they don’t fit the societal standard that we ourselves don’t fit into.

I say,
It’s the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step
The curl of my lips.


Loving the body God gave us seems to be an impossibility when you look around. We see it on television, on videos, on magazine covers. The majority of what we see basically tell us, do this, fix that, lift this. Like it or not, most of the time we are measured by a standard we did not make. Let me pose this question, “Who made the rules about what is attractive?” The poem, “Phenomenal Woman” celebrates, the hips that some may consider too wide or the wiggle some may think is too much.

I’m a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal Woman
That’s Me.


This stanza is something I believe Maya Angelou wanted all women to think about and believe. We as women truly are phenomenal. We are wives, mothers, daughters, business women, artists and so many things. Though no one can do it all, some women can multi-task with unmatched skill.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch my inner mystery


The men in our lives love us because there is something about us that they cannot find in anyone else. Also, to borrow from “Men are from Venus and Women are from Mars”, the female psyche may be mysterious or downright confusing to some men but women are divers, deep and intriguing, each in our own way. It’s worth it to try to understand our “inner mystery”.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed
I don’t shout or talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.


If I have learned anything in this life is to have pride in myself. I am not rich nor a size two but I still consider myself “phenomenal” Why? Because there is no one in the world like me. “Maya Angelou’s poem talks about all women being unique and beautiful. Her poem tells us that we don’t need to be loud or obnoxious to be noticed or “heard”. We only need to carry ourselves with dignity and pride.

It’s in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care
Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal Woman
That’s me.


What I love the most about Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” is that she is celebrating not supermodels, celebrities, or music artists. She is celebrating the phenomenal everyday beautiful woman, just like you and me.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Sonya L. Wilson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sonya L. Wilson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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