What makes for a phenomenal woman?

This morning, the Son and I did something we haven’t done in a long time: we went out for coffee.

As we approached the café, the Son said, “Why don’t we sit outside?”

There was still a bit of bite in the air but the sun was shining and there were people milling about, so I agreed.

A few minutes later, as we sat nursing our hot cup of java, a voluptuous woman walked by.

As I turned to look at her, I noticed the Son and the two men sitting next to us did the same.

Four sets of eyes followed the woman’s steps until she disappeared from sight.

I turned to the Son and said, “I thought you weren’t into chunky sisters.”

“And?”

“And you and the men next to us are foaming at the mouth.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well, she wasn’t particularly attractive so why did you look, and don’t tell me it’s a guy thing.”

“I don’t know. I think it’s the way she moved.”

I looked at him, eyes narrowing and asked, “The way she moved?”

“Yeah. She just moved, well, you know, kinda sexy.”

As I took another sip of my coffee, I realized I too had been captivated by the curvy woman’s movements.

She had reminded me of a lithe panther as she gracefully placed one foot in front of another, sashaying her hips in a hypnotic fashion.

Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” came to mind and I realized we had just witnessed a live example of just that, a phenomenal woman.

The width of her hips, the grace of her step, the curve of her back.

These had all served to mesmerize us.

However, I realized her physical qualities had been further accented by her apparent self confidence; self confidence that silently screamed, “I am beautiful.” “I believe in myself.” “I am important.”

Without saying a word, this woman had managed to convey her high sense of self worth.

And we had listened.

Our trance-like state was proof of just how well we had listened.

Tonight, walking by myself to the supermarket, I decided to practice some “phenomenal woman” steps of my own.

Head held high, shoulders pulled back, and eyes on the horizon, I walked, no, strutted, hips shaking left and right.

I giggled as I thought how proud Nurse Pritchett would be if she saw me.

Back in the seventh grade, while she screened us for scoliosis, Nurse Pritchett had reminded us why good posture was important.

“Girls, walk tall. Pretend your head’s being pulled by a string. Don’t slouch your shoulders unless you want to end up with a hump on your back.”

My chuckles interrupted the night’s silence as I recalled the many times I had walked the span of my room with a book on my head.

One foot in front of the other; hips swaying left and right; head held high.

Every step providing more self confidence.

Every shake of the hips making me feel fabulous.

As I stopped to cross the street, I noticed a man standing by a tree staring at me.

Onward I walked.

Phenomenal woman, that’s me.

When did you last feel like a phenomenal woman?

85 thoughts on “What makes for a phenomenal woman?

  1. You’re awesome. I love this post.
    One of the times I gained some weight back during my eating disorder everyone started commenting on how I suddenly had a butt again. I was walking to my apartment late at night and wearing these jeans I hadn’t been able to wear for a long time and some guy driving by yelled “Nice ass” out the window. Now, it’s not that I find that behavior appealing, it just was a weird moment that stuck in my mind of feeling like a woman…with a butt :)

    • “Feeling like a woman with a butt.” Lady, I love it! Nice ass indeed! hee hee! I am so glad you’ve manged to gain some weight back. Good for you! Here’s to weird moments like these that serve to put a mile on our faces! :)

  2. Oh Bella, this was incredible. Just recently I read an article about why men were staring at a woman who walked by. That was basically the same answer – she wasn’t that screamingly attractive, her figure wasn’t that perfect – yet they stared. Why? Because she walked so smoothly, like a confident lady.

    I haven’t felt like a phenomenal woman in such a long time. But you know what? I can take control of this excess weight, and I can re-learn to walk like a lady again, stand up straight with that string pulling my head up, and give myself confidence pep-talks! I am so glad you wrote this post!

    • Nan, you are a phenomenal woman, every minute of every day! There’s nothing wrong with a little extra weight, as long as it’s not affecting our health. However, I sense this is something you need to achieve. I love your pep and determination to regain the feeling of self confidence. You can do it! I believe in you! :)

  3. I love this post. Turning heads has less to do with one’s physical appearance than one’s physical acceptance combined with assurance; confidence with and presence in whom we are. Love it! :-) xoxo

    • Ellen, I knew you would approve! We were actually talking about this the other day! Yes, most definitely, in my humble opinion, what makes a woman sexy is her self confidence and this is indeed projected in how she walks, talks, dresses, and so forth. I’m so happy you like the post! Thank you! :)

  4. I think phenomenal is about attitude. When a woman feels good about her internal self, she takes care of the outside but yet, she doesn’t always feel the need to dress up the outside. I’ve seen women with those kinda walks and I always think, “Gone, girl.” I think I walk to fast for swaying hips and all. Then again, I’m not hippy either. I do try to work what nature gave me though. :-)

    • Totsy, how wonderful to read that you believe that “when a woman feels good about her internal self, she doesn’t always feel the need to dress the outside.” Because you just described me most of the time! Oh, Lord! I do not walk fast and yes, I’ve got the hips so there’s no excuse for not sashaying what God gave me! hee hee! I’m glad you work what you’ve got, woman! :)

    • J.C.V. I strongly concur! Which is why this weekend I plan to sit on a park bench and simply observe. I shall eyeball, take notes, and later, in the privacy of my home, practice the walk that gets so much head turning. Perhaps later, in the stealth of night, I shall once again practice the much revered strut! hee hee! :)

  5. “””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.”””

    Bella, one of my fave. poems by Angelou.

    thank you, sexy Mama !!! Xxxx Kisssssssssssssssss. Loooove.

    I can’t comment anymore from MY INNER CHICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHY?

    • Kim, I love, love Maya Angelou’s poem! I even memorized it a while back! I’m so glad you liked the post. What do you mean, you can’t comment from My Inner Chick? I had that happen to me about an hour ago when I tried to comment on Totsy’s blog. I had to restart my Firefox and everything! Perhaps it’s something to do with WordPress? Keep me posted! Hugs for you! :)

  6. Bella, I can see you striding along in your phenomenal woman step and feeling so proud! But how cool is that, that you got to spend some quality time with the son?? How exciting.

    At work we have a motto: Dress for success. It’s also a rule, so sometimes, when I’m in my professional outfit and feeling good about the way I look, then I find myself walking like I’m on a “runway.” That’s my phenomenal woman walk kicking into high gear, moments before I trip and fall on something. Okay, I don’t fall, just stumble awkwardly. ;)

    • bwhahaha! Stumbling awkwardly–been there, done that, Monica! My lack of grace is the reason my mother never signed me up for ballet classes! hee hee! And I bump into everything! Woman, I walk like I’m on the runway every day! It makes a woman feel sensational. Yes, spending time with the Son is a rare treat. Now that he’s grown, he doesn’t think spending time with mom is fun. Sigh. Just wait till they have kids of their own! :)

  7. Just like Kim, this has been one of my favorite poems from since college. I remember seeing Maya read this poem, and thought how she just had this…something undefinable. I’m not too far away from it-when I want it I can strut like nobody’s business!

    • Mamawolfe, I totally agree–Maya Angelou is in a class all by herself. My sister and I memorized this poem many moons ago and whenever one of us is feeling a little insecure, we quote one of the lines. It’s an instant “pick me up.” Good for you for struttin’ your stuff, sister! :)

  8. Great post. I need to think like this, instead of allowing the ancient, suck-in-that-gut tape run in my head! Great blog, Bella! Loved your post about the black cat and superstition. Will be back!

  9. Hi Bella. You are such a master of observation and then of painting a detailed picture of that observation. You’re so correct on this one. I have a very good girlfriend that over the years has gained some weight and is now 54 years old – but— she carries her head high, walks sexy and with confidence, and men still go crazy over her. I used to say – “what is it about her?” Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head! It’s all about the walk, the confidence and the attitude. High heels help, too!
    Nina
    http://over50andhappy.com

    • Nina, I’m so pleased you agree that it’s all about the walk, attitude, and confidence! Thank you for your kind words, lady. For the record, I’ve been walking like your friend these last couple of days and it’s tiring! And that’s without heels! hee hee! High heels are definitely sexy but with these cobblestones, they’re a health hazard! :)

  10. First, let me say that, my son would’ve never had the same conversation with me. you did something right girl. Second I agree with all the ladies above phenomenal/sexy = Self-Confidence.

    • Ariana, you wouldn’t believe the stuff the Son and I talk about! We’ve had this relationship since he was a little boy and I really feel blessed. However, he’s not always “frogs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails”. He can also be outright grumpy. But such is life, right? I’m glad you second self confidence as being the epitome of sexy. :)

  11. About two weeks ago, walking down the hill in downtown, just laughing with Eden and telling a story, I totally got stared at by two different guys. Felt pretty great! I’ve decided it was because I was laughing and having a good time, thus not the typical head down, no eye contact move that city dwellers tend to revert to. Yay for laughing!

    And I totally agree with Ariana – love the convos you have with the Son. Well done!

    • Lori, I would imagine that you and Eden draw many looks when you’re giggling! And that’s because laughter is downright sexy as well! The Son is a good egg and loves to have round table discussions, but only if he’s in the mood. However, when that’s the case, I just love it! I’ve missed you girl! So happy to see your comment today! :)

  12. Ahhh such a great question Bella..and wonderful post. I must say, I fail in this arena..strutting and head held high..I simply walk with purpose and try not to get noticed. I suppose it’s from my shy youth..it carries over to today. I am, however, making sure my daughters have a good dose of the phenomenal woman concept..thank you for sharing this!! You always brighten my blog. Thank you for your lovely visits!!

    • Shirley, I can understand how your shy nature would make it a bit difficult for you to draw attention to yourself. But you know what? The woman we saw seemed oblivious to the looks she was drawing from those around her. She seemed to be in a world of her own. I think that’s the hardest part: becoming that confident that you seemed unperturbed by the attention you’re drawing. We must work on this, you and I! hee hee! I’m so happy that your daughters are phenomenal women in training! How wonderful, lady! Your blog always brightens my day! Your talent leaves me awestruck, always. Thank you for adding to the mix, friend! :)

    • Paz, how amazing you must look as you strut your styles in the strees of New York! Let me know how it works out and how you feel as you practice your phenomenal woman walk! :)

    • Bella! I tried it on Friday. It worked! Boy, did I get a lot of stares. On the subway. And then on the way back home, I passed by these two guys talking and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one stop talking and take time to watch me pass by them. When he stopped talking his friend followed turned around, saw me, and soon the two were watching me. That’s when I stepped up my “phenomenal woman” strut. LOL! That was fun! I’m going to do it again. :-D

    • Paz, you just made me clap! I’ve literally clapped after reading your comment! Oh my goodness, this is huge! I love, love, love it, lady! Good for you! You see, we can all be phenomenal women! All it takes is confidence and the right attitude! :)

  13. YES YES YES!! That is the kind of woman that I want to be. That is how I want to feel on the inside and outside. I’ve actually been trying to have better posture because a chiropractor said that’s partially why I’m in pain most of the time. Now I have one more reason: building confidence with every step.

    • Danielle, would you believe the doctor told the Son that his shoulder and back pain is due to bad posture? I now have to remind him to sit up straight, as per his instructions. A mother’s work is never over, I tell you! hee hee! I’m delighted that you want to join the phenomenal women revolution! I’m so excited you’re joining us! :)

  14. This reminds me of the old movie “Easter Parade”. Have you ever seen it? I’m thinking of the scene where Fred Astaire and Judy Garland are walking down the street and Judy worries that she is not attractive enough to be Fred’s partner in his act. She notices that none of the men she passes are looking twice at her. So, she walks a little ahead of Fred and starts pulling the goofiest faces and of course every man that passes her turns and stares. Fred is impressed, he has no idea the men are looking at her because she looks crazy. Ha ha! I’m afraid this is what I would have to do

    • Oh, how I wish I had seen this movie! It sounds like such fun! And it makes me think it might be a riot to do funny faces as I walk with the Significant Other! That ought to embarrass and provide me with a ton of giggles! Let me know if you try it! hee hee! :)

  15. My mom had us girls practice walking with a book on our heads, too! Ha, the only thing that taught me was to hold my head still! Now, walking with confidence springs from inner confidence, not the way we might (or might not) sashay! And even my Sheltie knows how to strut, particularly after a grooming!

    • Debbie, I still have flashbacks of the “walking with a book on my head” torture! Utter rubbish, I tell you. I’m with you one hundred percent–walking with confidence does indeed spring from inner confidence. Roxy, like your Sheltie, likes to strut her stuff too! Grooming optional. hee hee! :)

  16. Loved this one – reminds us to be love the skin we are in. Personally, I always feel better when I am walking with my head on the horizon, my shoulder back, etc., but I do catch myself sometime meandering in my head and less focused on my gate. I try not to think while I am walking 1) lack of motor skills, klutz, 2) I will furrow the brows look down to the side and around… I don’t think writers should try to do both at the same time or maybe this one.

    • Brenda, I’m glad you liked the post! I mimic your walking style often, including the lack of motor skills. Gosh, I can be clumsy! One thing I don’t do is furrow the brow–my fear of wrinkles prevents me doing so! hee hee! I’m happy you chimed in, lady! Thank you! :)

  17. Since I had been neglecting my blog, I missed your February comment about my “Bees” post and wanted to thank you. What a treat to visit your blog–I love your photos and writing and will be back.

    I will be updating my blog at least weekly–finally–Spring is the perfect time to renew, don’t you think?

    I’m going to phocus on being phenomenal today. :)

    • Hello Britton! So glad to read that your blog will be up and running again! Indeed, spring is the perfect time for you to “renew” your writing place. I’m very much looking forward to reading new posts! And I’m delighted you’re focusing on being your natural phenomenal self! :)

  18. Confidence is sexy. It’s life affirming. The funny part is most of my male friends get that (though they might be hard pressed to articulate it) – if more women did the world would be a better place I swear. It’s still too much of a man’s world in so many ways.

    Great post Bella…

    • Ian, I am most pleased, not only to have a man’s perspective, but also to read that men get it! I wholeheartedly agree with you–confidence is sexy, both in women and men. For me, there’s nothing more appealing than to see a man walk into a room, the air of confidence about him. And if you throw in a sense of humor, a dash of wit, and good hair, well, you’ve got a winner! hee hee! Seriously though, I love how you state that confidence is “life affirming.” I couldn’t have said it better myself! :)

  19. Now you reminded me of a woman approximately my mother’s age, overweight – and one of the most pleasant-looking women I’ve ever seen. Not phenomenal, just pleasant-looking and likable-looking – and she was kicked out of the choir she used to sing in because, as the conducter said, “her looks would be repulsive to the audience”.

    I know, it’s not what you were talking about. :)

    • Ivana, I believe this is related to what we’re talking about. For years, women have been made to believe that you have to look a certain way, weigh a specific amount, and fit a cookie cutter mold in order to be embraced by society. How sad and shameful that the conductor chose to behave in this heinous fashion. I hope this phenomenal woman will someday find her voice and refuse to be bullied by the likes of this pathetic “little man.” Thanks for sharing, lady! :)

  20. I hit my stride in my 40s. Oddly, that was when I stopped caring about turning other people’s heads and became happy and confident with what was inside my own. I agree that confident people, both male and female, have certain air about them, but I don’t think “sexy” and “confident” are the same thing. Now, in my 60s, I see the word “woman” as carrying such baggage and societal expectations with it. I prefer to think of myself just as female. Yeah. It’s my gender, but I don’t let it define who I am as a person. If that makes any sense…

    • Hello Jayne! Just recently I was reading an article on the importance of living in a gender free world. So yes, I can see your point. Most definitely we shouldn’t let our gender define who we are or what we can do. That said, I’m not bothered by the word woman. I’ve been thwarting societal expectations since I was young so I think I that at this point, this might have something to do with it. To me, it’s just another adjective. :)

    • Hello Hilary! I’m so happy you like the post! If it’s any consolation, I dare say this goes back a long way for a lot of us. You are not alone, sister! :)

  21. I really have been thinking of relaxing my walk these days. Walking like a cat, walking with soft confidence, with relaxed shoulders. Breathing well, and walking slower to let the hips sway just slightly. The last time I’d felt like a phenomenal woman was … oh dear, don’t know if it has happened yet. I’ve felt good about myself in a calm way. But I’m not sure if that’s phenomenal. (Perhaps I ought to define what ‘phenomenal’ is to me first …)

    • Claudine, you are right–we do have to define what phenomenal means to us first. That said, I most definitely think your cat-like walk quite describes the walk of a phenomenal woman! Slow and careful makes for a very distinctive style and if it’s all yours, then all the better! I too shall try calm. I’ll get back to you and tell you what that feels like! Lets just hope I can achieve it! hee hee! :)

    • Nadine, thank you! I’m so pleased you like the post! And you’re right–we can become obsessed with the “little things.” Thank goodness for self confidence and its ability to ground us and provide us with renewed energy! :)

  22. Wonderful post! It’s amazing how much confidence affects perception. :)
    The last time I felt like a phenomenal woman, I was dancing around my room. Just shaking and grooving to Taylor Swift.

    • Kourtney, do you dance around in your room as well? Good for you! I find it to be so liberating! hee hee! I’m tickled pink you like the post! Confidence does have a way from lifting us when we’re feeling down, doesn’t it? Keep shaking and grooving and being the phenomenal woman you are, lady! :)

    • Thanks Bella! I love to dance around while getting dressed or just as a break from computer work. ;) I can do any move and feel like a rock star. Loved the post, especially your son’s explanation. He’s brilliant.

    • Kourtney, you’ve just managed to successfully make the Son smile as well as say, “What I’ve always told you, mom!” Thank you! hee hee! Keep dancing! :)

  23. I used to know a guy who was like that woman (confident, that is, not voluptuous). He was easy going, friendly and believed he looked fantastic. Everyone around him believed in his self confidence. Beauty truly is more than skin deep.

  24. I ma the 77th comment, you are rocking girl! It is because you are so good! I loved this post. I tell people all the time, if we thinking we are beautiful is so much more important than being thin, it is an energy that comes from inside. I read a quote the other day about “The Prettiest Girls are the Happy Ones.” Love it!

    • Jodi, you’re so good for my self esteem! Thank you, sweetie! I am tickled pink that you liked the post! Just tickled pink! I’m in total agreement that beauty, like Nora mentioned, is more than skin deep, and like you say, comes from within. Moreover, gosh darn it if it doesn’t put pep in our step! hee hee! I’ve added your quote to my journal. I love it! :)

  25. Oh how I wish I could say something sexy and enticing here… to make all who read only wish they could be as desired and as labelled as a phenomenal woman as I. Truth is however… last time I felt like a phenomenal woman was when I finally ironed to the bottom of the overflowing ironing basket :/ ahhh such is my exciting life :)

    • Soul, you crack me up! If it’s any consolation, yesterday I felt like a phenomenal woman when I folded the last of the clean laundry! ha! :)

  26. Once, I was sitting in my van, waiting to turn left onto a major road. A truck approached and signalled to turn towards me. there were two men in the cab. As they passed me, the truck slowed down and both men’s heads snapped around and looked at me. I mean really looked at me. For just a moment, I felt like a queen! Mmmm. Good memories. :)

    • Aw, Diane, don’t you love the feeling? I think this means we love admiration! We do! And it feels good to be appreciated, darn it! hee hee! I’m glad you have that good memory! :)

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