The Meaning of Phenomenal: Phenomenal Woman

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Ilana Anderson
English 113 MWF 8:30AM
Dr. Osborne
Paper 2
May 8, 2013

The Meaning of Phenomenal: Phenomenal Woman I discovered that Maya Angelou mostly writes from experience, and this poem falls perfectly in that category. I have faced constant discrimination as a woman, particularly as an African American woman. Modern society highly values women's beauty. Due to that pressure, and the speaker's achievement of that standard, the other women who respond to the speaker, also wish to reach their "potential" as women, and to "fit in." Their desire is a genuine one. This poem can closely relate to the pride I have found by loving myself regardless of what others think. Attitude speaks, moves, shows its true beauty. Most women seem not to know what it means to be unique, but regard the highest aim as the standard society sets for beauty. It is however, a faulty aim, the speaker explains. In her powerful response to the pressure of society, the speaker elucidates to her fellow women that it isn't just about how a woman's looks or her built, but it's about who the woman is as a person. Maya Angelou is very specific in describing the woman and some of the details do include the physical attributes of the woman. “It’s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing of my waist, and the joy in my feet. “ These descriptions are more than what meet the eye. It’s not just her eyes, teeth and hips it’s the way she looks at you, the way she smiles, the way she walks. Attractive personality is much more powerful than attractive genetics or any ability to fill in an impossible role. The speaker then explains to these women, and rightly to all women, that it is her own attractive personality that is the reason men "stand or fall down on their knees" before her. It does not mean that she does not try to be her best, but she does not see conformity as justifiable and therefore the reason why "[her] head's not bowed". She then goes on to...
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