Homage to My Hips by Lucille Clifton uses “Hips” as the figurative metaphor to show characteristics of the speaker. The speaker has mighty, magical, and powerful hips (Clifton, 198). She is an independent woman who is proud of her body and not enslaved to anyone, including her husband. In the poem, the term man is used to mean people. The speaker is confident that she can alter other people perspective about her, her identity, and her race through the mighty hips. The phrase that her hips “need more space to move around” has no or less meaning in the physical aspect (Clifton, 198). Its meaning lies in that she is a black woman in dire need of adequate freedom from the world and people. She needs more freedom to go outside and socialize with other people rather than being confined in a limited space.
The speaker explains how she should be dealt with in the entire poem. She stands tall and strong about her needs. She does not allow anyone to tell her about her body. She is not bothered by the third-party views about her physical appearance. She believes that she is exceptional, and nothing can change that. The speaker’s words and courage are inspirational since many people feel today in a society full of body shaming. The speaker shows pride when she states that “she can cast a spell on a man with her hips” (Clifton, 198). This shows how powerful she is, and knowing we possess such power is critical to our self-esteem.
Body shaming is a significant issue in the present world such that many people, especially women, feel that they are always judged based on their physical appearances. Nowadays, media is making it difficult for women to be themselves and take pride in what God’s giving. The speaker shows that she is proud of what God has given her through the proem, and she is not ashamed nor afraid to be herself. The speaker is not self-conscience by any chance because she believes that “these hips are big hips” (Clifton, 198). She also says that her hips “don’t fit into petty places” to show she does not befriend or associate with people who are always concerned about judging people based on their physical looks (Clifton, 198). In line nine, the speaker states that “these hips are mighty hips” to show the hips are necessary and mighty things for women to possess (Clifton, 198). In lines thirteen and fifteen, the speaker states, “I have known them to put a spell on a man and spin him like a top,” to show how powerful they are in swaying the conception of people about herself, her identity, and her race (Clifton, 198). The statement is also remarkable because it shows women’s power over men and that only a few are lucky to known that.
The speaker uses the poem to show that she has broken loose from third-party judgments about her appearances. She is proud of herself and what God has given him. Through her mighty hips, the speaker celebrates her femininity and body. She also inspires other ladies to stand tall and strong against body shaming. Instead, they should appreciate and be proud of what God gave them.
Clifton, Lucille. “Homage to my hips.” (1987): 198.