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Be Phenomenal

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“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size….”
– Maya Angelou (“Phenomenal Woman”, 1978)

maya angelou

When the average person hears of Maya Angelou, the first thought that comes to mind is her empowering and motivational poem, Phenomenal Woman. For over three decades, this poem has been read and recited by women to signify accomplishment and self-gratitude. Ladies, for those of you who’ve read or heard this poem before, have you really contemplated its message? In other words, if we can gain self-worth by reciting Maya Angelou’s words, what words are we leaving behind for the next generation of women to recite?

I believe Maya Angelou is recognized as a mogul because she withdrew inspiration from all measures of her life, both the ups and the downs. The definition of “phenomenal” is to be uncommon, highly extraordinary, or outstanding. It was uncommon for women of color to be recognized as beautiful….but we are. It was highly extraordinary for single mothers to raise children who’ve went on to live successfully…..but they did. It was outstanding for women to eventually go on to become doctors, lawyers, authors, and entrepreneurs….and they did. I remember Maya Angelou mentioning in one of her autobiographies that her past and failures were no different than anyone else’s; she simply learned how to grow from it.

by Ashley Cottrell

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