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Beliefs about the self can also be structured around cultural notions about the status of one’s family. For instance, a woman who bears a child will use her community’s beliefs about mothers to construct her own convictions about who she is. If she is a working mother, she may also use her society’s ideas about different occupations to create her own self identity (Shoemaker 49).
Society, for the most part, can help an individual to construct meaningful ideas about their worth. However, this is not always the case, and when society is judgmental towards one’s particular community or gender, it will inevitably influence how people see themselves. According to Mohamed Rafiq, Maya Angelou’s poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, appears to have been an exercise in encouraging women to define themselves by qualities other than those stipulated by society (Rafiq, 36). The scholar Mary Lupton, who has studied the poetry of Maya Angelou has also stated that the poetess used statements such as "the curl of my lips" (Line 9) and "the stride of my steps" (Line 8) in her poem, ‘Phenomenal Woman’, to show that a woman is more than a body that has society’s standards of beauty. She wanted to stress that women are already fully female without necessarily adding all the things that society stipulates (Lupton, 5). According to Chasar, Langston Hughes, who lived at a time when African Americans were subjected to segregation in all areas of life, allowed his warped self identity to show itself in his poems (Chasar, 59). This is an example of how society’s warped view of something can influence a person’s self identity. In his poem, ‘Cross’, Hughes stated,
According to the scholar, Shaduri, Langston expresses regret for saying things that were the result of his doubt in who he was and the worth of that (Shaduri, 94). He had inherited that legacy from his
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