Study Guide

homage to my hips Setting

By Lucille Clifton

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Remember that America Ferrera movie, Real Women Have Curves? There's a fabulous scene at the end of the movie when all of the women in a sweatshop strip down to their bras and flaunt their curves. You could think of this poem as the triumphant end of every coming-of-age movie: it's full of happy music and smiling faces, right from the get-go.

This is about as real world as a poem can get. Our speaker makes sure we know that her hips move through a world full of good-looking men (and even a couple of petty, know-nothing fools). It's precisely this worldliness which gives the poem so much power: it's pretty easy to feel good about yourself when you're standing alone in front of a mirror. It's a little bit trickier to feel the same way when you're in the mall, standing under those horrible florescent lights that manage to magnify every single little imperfection on your body.

This poem takes that real world by storm. Sure, "these hips" might need a little more space than those size 2 skin-tight jeans may offer. But that only makes our speaker even prouder. After all, her hips might need more space in their jeans – but that makes them all the more "magical"!

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