Phenomenal Woman By Maya Angelou

Any woman who is having a bad day  should read this poem to empower themselves a little. Written by the inspirational Maya Angelou, the persona exudes confidence, but without arrogance. As she describes all the features that she feels make her “phenomenal” there seems to be an undertone that perhaps the persona is also trying to convince herself. The repetition of “That’s me” gives an impression of the persona’s growing pride (or perhaps incredulity) in herself as she considers what exactly makes her so “phenomenal”. Although the persona isn’t a stereotypical “pretty woman”, she is still highly desirable and her self-belief is largely the reason why. It is this contrast that allows the distinctly average woman (much like myself) to appreciate ourselves just that little bit more and that self-confidence can make us average women truly “phenomenal”.

            Phenomenal Woman

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.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.