Maya Angelou Thinks You are Strong & Beautiful

Once a week, I’d like to make an encouraging post on the subject of beauty. It’s nice to mix in light, encouraging topics, right? I think so. This weeks encouraging post is geared toward all women who need a confidence boost to get through their Friday. 

Maya Angelou, born in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, is best known for her autobiographical works, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She is a writer, a poet, a director, a screenwriter, a playwright, a singer, a historian and a teacher. Most recently, she has been teaching at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. You can click on this link if you want to read her 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Although her poetry is criticized by some and praised by others, I like to look at poems individually. I cannot judge her other poems, but I like this one. To me, this poem describes a woman who draws admiring eyes, not because she is perfect, but because she is confidant. And she is confidant, not because she is perfect, but because she has accepted herself as she is. This acceptance of her entire self, which is so rare to see, makes her stand out from the crowd like a tall and sturdy sunflower in a field of slumped-over daffodils. When you accept yourself as you are, you say, “Okay this is what I have to work with. Now let’s see what my strengths are.” In this way, you get to know yourself which, in turn, gives you confidence.

Imagine that you are an art major and you have to present an enormous painting for a class project. If you have spent all your time worrying about the little imperfections (that line is a little crooked, I don’t like how dark the background is, that person’s eyes are too close together) then you aren’t going to know how to present the painting in a favorable light. In fact, you won’t really know how to present your painting at all. You spent all your time wondering how you could fix its few weaknesses instead of concentrating on its many strengths. And, thus, you really don’t know your painting.

In life, be sure your prepared. Childhood and adolescence are your time to examine and explore your strengths and weaknesses so that you know how to present yourself in a favorable light. From job interviews, to social situations, to everyday life, you need to know how to best present your strengths that you are confidant in. If you know you’re funny, tell a joke. If you know you’re better one-on-one then find someone who needs a friend. If you’re gifted athletically, teach a class at the gym or try out for a team. Play to your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.  Extra Hint: Each time you play to your strengths, you gain more experience in that area, which makes that strength even stronger. Then people start to notice that strength and compliment you on that strength and then hire you because of that strength. And then you gain more confidence! What a cycle.

That’s my interpretation. If you have any insights feel free to leave them in the comment below. Sometimes poems mean something different to each person who reads it, but I think that this one is rather straight-forward.

Phenomenal Woman

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
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
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

6 thoughts on “Maya Angelou Thinks You are Strong & Beautiful

  1. Such a good read and a good reminder to not beat yourself up about things you can’t change and just embrace who you are!

  2. Yeah girl yeah!

  3. Preach it girl! Preach it!

  4. […] Maya Angelou Thinks You are Strong & Beautiful ( […]

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