Body Image: Interpreting Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman

Body image has always been my issue. When I’m slim, I have no hips or ass. When I gain weight, my body turns into an interesting Sponge Bob sort of dimension. My boobs are loyal and remain not fazed by pounds going up or down. They love me so much; they’ve decided to hang out for the ride.

I used to make excuses and say that it’s my thyroid disorder.  Or my stomach is fat because I have fibroids.  There’s no way obsessing over French fries and anything pasta would make my stomach grow. I even had the nerve to say that my body is mostly muscle weight. Once I got excited when I learned that legs carry a lot of weight.  I have long legs and a short torso. That’s it, that stupid BMI standard isn’t for people like me.

Over the years, I had moments of being in great shape. I loved the gym.  It was an excellent way to relieve stress. Then there were times, I chose food to relieve stress. The balance just wasn’t there. There are only so many push ups, sit-ups, and sets on the weights that will counter a basket of French fries loaded with barbecue sauce, ghetto mix (Cheese Popcorn and Hot Stuff), and anything pasta.

Carrying extra pounds is inevitable when metabolism takes a nose dive. And of course, metabolizing and aging will eventually go into all-out war. Now what!  Stop eating. I think NOT! I needed to make some changes. First, I wanted to figure out what drives my behavior. Too much to discuss. That’ll be in another conversation.  I’ll just say it had a lot to do with relationships or lack thereof for now.

Then one day I read Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.”

Here’s the part I love:

“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 by Maya Angelou

You can read the entire poem here:  Phenomenal Woman

Here’s my perception of Phenomenal Woman: 

She’s Unbelievable

by Crystal Tousana

It’s easy to believe

When I rise, I breathe

Men want to know me

Not because my body is perfect

Because it’s not

I have no perfect curves

My moves are delicate

My legs stand tall

They see confidence in my eyes

When I speak, I tell the truth

My honesty is through the roof

My heart is on my sleeve

I’m unbelievable

Share your version of Phenomenal Woman in the comments.


Follow crystal on Twitter @ TousanaC


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