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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Body Image


Reawaken the Phenomenal You

Linda S. Rellergert, MS, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist University of Missouri Extension

The poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou could serve as an anthem for the average woman and girl, for all of us who do not look like the models we see in magazines or the actresses we see on television. Angelou has written a love poem for every girl or woman who has struggled with body image.

The first stanza of the poem is printed here. Get a copy of the entire poem (check your local library or do an Internet search) and post it in a prominent place in your home or work place. This wonderful poem reminds us that each of us is beautiful and unique, and that if we love and believe in ourselves, others will too.

Reawaken the phenomenal you with tips such as these from authors Dayle Hayes and Mary Pipher:

  • Remember that the “ideal” body shape has changed over time, and has been greatly influenced by advertising. This so-called ideal is likely to continue changing.
  • Healthy beautiful people come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. One size does not fit all.
  • When you look in a mirror notice something positive about your appearance.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others especially in terms of physical appearance. Strive to be interesting, nurturing, witty, a good listener, a good friend.
  • Keep track of your successes and accomplishments and remind yourself of them often.
  • Don’t criticize or comment on other women’s appearance. Compliment others for something other than their physical appearance.
  • Wear beautiful, comfortable clothes that fit. Search out stores and catalogs that cater to people of your size, shape and fashion sense.
  • Stand tall and proud. Straighten your stance and feel energy, strength and confidence flow from your head to your toes.
  • Put your mind in touch with your body. Heighten your confidence and body awareness by practicing walking meditation, tai chi or yoga.

From Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.






Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009



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