Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know, A “Poem” By Pamela Redmond Satran… Not Maya Angelou

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In 1997, Pamela Redmond Satran wrote a list for Glamour Magazine. Having already passed her thirtieth birthday, her goal was to tell younger women about “the things I really wished I’d had and known by that important milestone.” It not only resonated, it became a phenomenon. To this day, the now bestselling author’s list continues to make its way across the web, via sites, inboxes, and social feeds, experiencing recurring surges of viral popularity. Yet, up until very recently, in typical not-giving-credit-where-credit-is-due internet form, it was most often shared with either no attribution to Pamela or tagged as someone else’s work, including “Maya Angelou’s Best Poem Ever.”

“Well, I don’t know how Maya Angelou feels about this, but I’m pretty pissed off,” Pamela wrote in a July 2007 HuffPo blog, 10 years after her list first hit the pages of Glamour. “The truth is, this ‘poem’ was written not by Dr. Angelou but by me, and published under my byline.” It ran in the magazine’s May 1997 List column, which was a column that Pamela created for the publication.

“Well, I don’t know how Maya Angelou feels about this, but I’m pretty pissed off.”

In the years that followed, an old-school game of Telephone ensued, but at the warp speed and infinite reach of the digital age with Pamela’s words at its core. Her list had gotten passed along so many times to so many people that its true authorship was blurred (or simply ignored), with everyone from Hillary Clinton to Jesse Jackson to “anonymous” being given credit for it.

So in 2012, the editors at Glamour decided to turn Pamela’s internet-famous list into a book – 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30. It was a clever way to recoup proper credit in a very visible and public way, and it also gave them an opportunity to expand on the advice-packed list’s popularity by including personal anecdotes and essays from notable women like Kathy Griffin, Lisa Ling, Lauren Conrad, Taylor Swift, Katie Couric, and… Maya Angelou, among others.

Now 19 years after its first publication and 4 years after the release of that credit cementing book, we’re sharing Pamela’s original list as our WYSKy gesture of contributing to its next viral life, but with proper attribution. So if it resonates with you, and you’re inspired to pass it on, just be sure to tell all your friends who wrote it… Pamela Redmond Satran.


Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know
By Pamela Redmond Satran

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
a youth she’s content to leave behind…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to retelling it in her old age…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
one friend who always makes her laugh…
and one who lets her cry…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored…

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE…
a feeling of control over her destiny…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to fall in love without losing herself…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
when to try harder…
and when to walk away…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that she can’t change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
that her childhood may not have been perfect…
but it’s over…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
how to live alone…
even if she doesn’t like it…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
whom she can trust, whom she can’t, and why she shouldn’t take it personally…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
where to go…
be it to her best friend’s kitchen table…
or a charming inn in the woods…
when her soul needs soothing…

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…
what she can and can’t accomplish in a day…
a month…
and a year…


What You Should Know About Pamela

Pamela_R_Satran_2Pamela Redmond Satran is the New York Times bestselling author of both humor books and novels, including Younger, now a television show created by Sex & The City’s Darren Star for TVLand. Her other books include the historical novel The Possibility of You and the bestsellers How Not To Act Old and 30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know By The Time She’s 30.

She’s also the coauthor with Linda Rosenkrantz of a groundbreaking series on baby names and the cocreator of the website Nameberry. Satran is a columnist for the Observer and contributes to the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, and More.

The mother of three grown children, she lives in Los Angeles where she is working on a new novel and developing an original television series. Follow Pamela on Twitter.

  • Peggye Williams Mills

    I wanted to share this article, with the list and give appropriate credit to Ms. Satran. However, the leading quote, “Well, I don’t know how Maya Angelou feels about this, but I’m pretty pissed off.”, is off-putting, as it may be seen as an accusation of plagiarism, by Ms. Angelou. Therefore, I cannot share the entire article, though I may copy the list, only, and attribute it to Ms. Satran, without the entire article.

  • robin

    I don’t know Ms. Angelou but she seems to be a generous spirit. I think she would have seen the comment as someone who’d agree that credit should be given to those who create. She seems to be an incredible spirit who would see the incorrect credit as either a compliment to how her talent is viewed or really annoyed that someone would not research well enough and slight someone from her own craft. I’m hoping that’s the perspective from which Ms. Satran spoke and that her quote was cut short. So, I can appreciate your point of discretion.

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