At first read of this topic, I froze. The thought of pondering this subject that hits close to home was a bit uncomfortable. Being a woman in society comes with a certain level of endurance in itself. Adding unwavering strength can be daunting and cumbersome yet rewarding. Let’s break down a couple words in this subject for a more in depth analysis. Let’s take Strong and Woman. Strong has two interesting definitions that I think is appropriate: 1) “having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks” and 2) “able to withstand great force or pressure” the second definition is particularly descriptive of many women I know.
The implication that women contain foundational properties is profound. Think about it, historically women have been viewed as the backbone of many entities; life, marriage, religion, education, justice and countless more. Woman: 1) “an adult female.” I was sort of shocked by the lack of content defining women. Synonyms but not more content. If I could add to the definition, it’ll say “woman: the conduit of life; from which beauty derives.” Strength is subjective in nature and when a woman is referred to as such, perspective is key. To be a strong woman is to know that some days, you will look in the mirror and struggle to love what you see. It’s to know that a strong woman isn’t one who never doubts or feels discouraged—but one who can also see through her faults and short-comings to recognize the good in her as well. She knows that some days will be more difficult to love herself than others, but she still does the best she can—in the big and small ways.
To be a strong woman is to know that on the days you struggle, it’s imperative to acknowledge the space you’re in and ask for help, rather than pretending to have it all together. A strong woman doesn’t always have it all together— sometimes she is still picking up the pieces on the ground and deciding where to go next. To be a strong woman is to know that sometimes, you will not feel like a strong woman at all. She will feel weak, or less experienced, or less worthy of having the word “strong” be listed in words to describe her. She may not look like every strong woman she sees, but that’s okay—she isn’t supposed to. She has her own strength forged through experience and hurts, as well as victories. I’ll close with an appropriate piece from one of my favorite teachers who while here eloquently illustrated what strength in a woman really is, Mother Maya Angelou’s critically acclaimed poem, Phenomenal Woman.
“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 phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me. 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. I say, it’s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet.. I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me. Men themselves have wondered what they see in me. They try so much but they can’t touch my inner mystery. When I try to show them, they say they still can’t see. I say, it’s in the arch of my back, the sun of my smile, the ride of my breasts, the grace of my style. I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me. Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed. I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing, it ought to make you proud. I say, it’s in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need for my care. Cause I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”
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