Celebrating Black Womanhood: A Womanist Analysis of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman

The following article aims at showing how Maya Angelou’s poem Phenomenal Woman is a womanist piece of art in the patriarchal context of white American culture.  First, it discusses the criteria of beauty in the above-mentioned context.  Then, the study demonstrates how the poem is a feminist denunciation of the patriarchal criteria of beauty and how these perceptions are oppressive toward the black woman who does not fit into the set criteria. After denouncing the unfair definition of feminine beauty, the article displays the pride expressed in black womanhood, through the description of the speaker of the poem who does not look like the white fashion model.  The poet achieves her aim in the usage of commonly known poetic devices such as structural repetition, rhyming, refrain, and diction.

Keywords: beauty, femininity, womanist, womanhood, celebration