Phenomenal Woman – That’s Me

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The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

~ Sam Levenson

Beauty of a Woman BlogFest I’ll admit with a bowed head that I haven’t given as much attention to poetry, as a genre, as I should. Yet there are a few poems that were so inspiring that they’ve stayed with me and I often draw strength from them. One such poem is the powerful ode to women written by Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman.” It is a gorgeous, lyrical poem that celebrates what makes a woman truly beautiful. When I heard about the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, via writer Misty Dietz, I knew I had to be part of it.

The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest, hosted by August McLaughlin, is designed to celebrate our vastly diverse definitions of  what makes a woman beautiful. The blogfest is inspired by a poem by Sam Levenson of the same name, with which I wasn’t familiar, but is now among my favorites. My focus for this post is Levenson’s words above.

We can all appreciate the outer beauty of a woman who is pleasing to the eye because she meets the “traditional” standard of beauty. However, while people are drawn to a pretty face, it isn’t enough to make them hang around. Rather, it is a beauty that resides much deeper within that draws us to people and makes us want to stick to them, love them, and support them. A beauty of spirit.

I’ve been fortunate to know many amazing women in my life who are truly, and deeply beautiful. Women who offer to hop a plane and support me through an emotional crisis, even when doing so creates a hardship for her. Women who don’t except my dutiful responses to tough questions, and support me even when they don’t like my honest answer. Women who see what is truly amazing about me, even when I’ve lost sight of it myself.

That is what makes a woman–a girlfriend, a sister, a mother, a fellow writer–truly beautiful.

Having such beautiful women in my life makes me a better person, one who wants to support other women in the same way. So thank you to all of the phenomenal women in my life, and to those who support women everywhere.

As for Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” no-one could render her words quite like the woman herself. Enjoy!

Video of the Week: Hot Soldiers Sing Call Me Maybe
This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on Love.


  1. Phenomenal Woman is one of my favorite poems. The part about diamonds in her hips in particular always makes me smile.

    There is a community of women that hold a cultural identity. We don’t have different priorities or want different things, but we do sometimes come from different places. It is hard to be a woman in today’s world. Expectations are high all around and don’t take into account that we have to split ourselves a million ways. Work is not the only thing in our lives, neither are husbands or children or writing or living. We have to do it all and we have to do each really well. It’s important for women to support each other in a world that is not always designed for our ever-changing and multi-faceted needs.

    • Women have so many balls in the air at any given time. It’s hard to keep them all going, especially if you don’t have the needed support. All the more reason to celebrate the women in our lives who do support our goals and dreams.

  2. I love Maya Angelou and her words.

    • I agree, Kathryn! Maya Angelou is an amazing woman, and so inspiring. “Phenomenal Woman” and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are just two of the many reasons to love her.

    • Ditto. Some of her quotes are amazing. I’ve posted them on facebook a couple of times and each time they get a terrific response.

  3. I always find Maya Angelou very inspiring. This poem as well as “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” are among my favorite poems. This seems to be a very uplifting blogfest and I like your take, “beauty of spirit”. Love that!

  4. I love Maya– sigh. No one can combine poetry, prose in such a way that it sings to our hearts like she can. Truly gorgeous writing. Thanks for sharing that video. Her voice. Sigh.

    I’m very thankful for my women friend– and my online writing friends like you. 🙂 Makes my heart happy.

  5. Maya Angelou is so inspiring. Listening to her read her words just made me smile. Thanks Reese!

  6. Just hearing the poem makes me want to stand, shoulders back, and do the catwalk style walk the next time I enter a room or meeting at work. Her words impart power and confidence that we all need to have so that we can believe in our own abilities.

    • The poem does fill you with confidence and a real sense of pride. It is a celebration of many of the things–our hair, our hips–that had perhaps been a source of shame or diminished self-esteem. Thank you for that wonderful observation.

  7. Maya Angelou’s poem is such a perfect addition to the blog fest.

  8. I love that Maya Angelou poem. I haven’t heard it before. Great post!

  9. Maya Angelou is a tremendously talented poet. There are so many wordsmiths out there, hellbent on making us hear their words. I hope you will continue to seek out the spoken word. Poetry is how this whole writing thing started! LOL! Great post. Nice to meet you.

    • I will Renee! Promise. There is so much a writer can learn from poets and short story writers. I’m trying to expand my experience with both genres and I’m always open to suggestions.

  10. Oh, yes! Yes, yes, yes! Maya’s poem!! Like Sabrina said…it IS perfect for this blogfest. I’ve never heard her speak it, so that was really a treat. Loved your post, Reese! And cute ass website, BTW!

    • Thanks Misty! I’m a huge fan of black, white, and hot pink together, so this theme spoke to me. Glad you like it.

  11. I love Phenomenal Woman, and it’s so best when you can hear it aloud! A friend of mine performed this poem in a diversity education show I was in. Check out the spoken word Slip of the Tongue, another great poem that we performed as an ensemble. It’s killer, but a great message too! Enjoy!

  12. Kim Jorgensen Gane says:

    My post was about my beautiful women friends, too: my posse. So blessed to have beautiful women in our lives, indeed!

    • Beautiful women friends are a gift that should never be taken for granted. So nice to read so many stories of women who truly appreciate the fabulous women in their lives.

  13. Reese, I love Maya Angelou, but I’m ashamed to admit I’ve somehow missed this poem! It’s so wonderful and has made my day. Such a gift, thank you!

    • Debra Eve thank you so much for your inspiring book and website, You’ve highlighted so many beautiful women. I am truly motivated by your work.

  14. “Phenomenal Woman” is one of my favorites from Ms. Angelou. She is a national treasure, and rightfully so.

    Your post, and the reference to “Phenomenal Woman” has reminded me of why I so like “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer ( It’s about skipping past the fluff of the external and delving deep into the heart and soul; the spirit.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • What a wonderful poem, Ellen. Thanks for sharing. There so many inspiring lines in the poem, the one most apropos to this discussion is: “I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.” Loved it.


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