FIERCE.

I haven’t been one of those people who have a word for the year....

Until I went with a friend into the mountains of Georgia to photograph girls who have come out of being trafficked for sex. Photos were used to sell them. We were rewriting some of that story with photographs of their beauty to be used as gifts for their loved ones and to remind themselves of who they are as beautiful, powerful, and free women. Their mentor was present during this photo shoot and she kept using a certain word to describe how they looked in front of the camera. I was captivated by these women but also by the words that were used to describe and affirm them. “Fierce” was one such word, and it has stayed with me. I looked it up. I asked friends about it. “Having or displaying an intense or ferocious aggressiveness…a feeling, emotion, or action showing a passionate and powerful intensity.” Yes, these women looked fierce…fiercely beautiful, intense, and fiercely free. Had they needed to become fierce and was this now a part of who they are? Or had they always been fierce and they are now beyond permissions? Is it a strength for a woman to be fierce? Synonyms: savage, powerful, strong, forceful, aggressive. Not what a woman is usually celebrated for.

Unless you are Wonder Woman.

Maybe we do celebrate this powerful and free fighter for liberation and unashamed beauty… and fear her at the same time?

So I have been wondering…why is this word staying with me, as if it is my word…following me around begging for attention and simulation. I think of all the times I could have been fierce in strongly speaking my mind, fighting for my truth, liberating a friend, against oppressors, standing up for love, acting courageous rather than shrinking back, fighting battles and being the hero. If I’m honest I fear I have abdicated my power as a human, regardless of any excuse I can make culturally as a woman.

So I am taking on a word for 2018, and starting early. Fierce. Fiercely alive, Fiercely free, Fiercely fighting for the highest good of others. Fiercely for love.

What is your word?

Armandee Drew