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Phenomenal Woman

“It’s in the arch of my back,

The sun of my smile,

The ride of my breasts,

The grace of my style.”

                   Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou

It is a year next week since Maya Angelou died. Born into a tempestuous marriage, raped at eight-years-old by her mother’s boyfriend, a mother herself by 17, Maya went on to become, at various stages, a performer, a prostitute, a car mechanic, a waitress, a poet and writer, a newspaper editor, a film director, and a civil rights activist. She was a friend and confidant of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and read at the inauguration of Bill Clinton. What some people achieve in one lifetime is remarkable.

Phenomenal Woman is Angelou’s stunning homage to herself and a celebration of her beauty and ability to captivate, despite not being “cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.” It’s a rallying cry for the gorgeousness of tall, broad women everywhere! Her reading of the poem never fails to make my spine tingle and it’s worth listening till the end just to hear the spirit and joy with which she delivers the final line.




  1. silverdomuk

    She is one of our heroes, and we don’t generally ‘do’ heroes much. Great shot.

  2. Modesty Ablaze (@ablazingmodesty)

    Yes, agreed . . . inspirational woman. And so many wonderful quote points within that poem, for so many different moods or moments. (I particularly like “It’s in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair,
    the palm of my hand”).
    Oh, and lovely picture too BTW !!!
    Xxx – K

  3. Marie Rebelle

    That’s a stunning poem and a beautiful image to go with it 🙂
    Rebel xox

  4. theotherlivvy

    Oh, I’ve not read that poem before. It’s wonderful! I love the idea of the ‘grace of my style.’ Thank you for introducing it to me. And you look beautiful, as always! Xxx

    • Exposing40

      I wasn’t sure whether to end the extract quite at ‘ride of my breasts’ or to include ‘grace of my style’. You comment encouraged me to add it back in! X

      • Exposing40

        Quote, not quite. ‘Ducking’ iphone!

  5. HappyComeLucky

    Inspiring, thought provoking and affirming. On top of all that, you go and choose the words of an amazing woman to emphasise your message even further.

  6. Kilted Wookie (@Kilted_Wookie)

    I’m with many of the other commenters; the words and image compliment each other beautifully.

  7. Molly

    This is a beautiful image and the words for Maya fit it perfectly. I met Maya once, I was about 12 and she was friends of my parents neighbour. She came to stay for the summer and I can remember sitting at the garden fence and talking to ‘the lady staying next door’ She was nice, friendly, talked to me like I was a grown-up not a little kid. I was 12 though, and I knew she was ‘someone’ but I didn’t really know who…. I look back on that memory now as something very precious. She was just the lady at the fence and I was just a little girl she was chatting to.

    • Exposing40

      OH MY GOD!!!! *weeps* So cool! Xx

  8. F Dot Leonora

    this is such a PHENOMENAL post because i think you are all the things that this poem says, and the image is simply gorgeous!!!

  9. sexblogofsorts

    I’ve only ever read ‘I know why the caged bird sings’, which I really liked – I’ve never checked out her poetry. This is lovely though.

  10. sub-Bee

    This is a very fitting tribute to an inspirational woman.

  11. KaziG

    This is a beautiful illustration to memorable words 🙂
    ~Kazi xxx

  12. Sweetendirty

    This is beautiful! 🙂

  13. mariasibylla

    I love listening to Maya Angelou read her work aloud. There is so much more there when you hear it in her voice.
    *You*are a phenomenal woman as well, and this photo is gorgeous. I love the negative space created by the angles and curves of your body, highlighting the gorgeous wallpaper behind you. There is something about the dark paper contrasted with your fair skin that is electric. Really gorgeous photo!

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