March 31, 2011

Hold Tight to the Handlebars of Fierceness

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On a recent episode of America’s Next Top Model, host and reality T.V. prophet, the infamous Tyra, offered up this shining nugget of (modeling) life advice to one of her skinny little protégés: “You need to grab on to the handlebars of fierceness,” she said, “and not let go.” This, my friends, is sage wisdom we should all live by. I understand if you are inclined to judge me for watching ANTM in the first place — surely calling it an inane consumerist freakshow would be an understatement — but do not disregard the power of fierceness. Herewith, I present what it means to be fierce in every facet of life, and why I always strive to hold tight to those handlebars.

There is no precise definition of “fierce” in this sense. The dictionary offers us a rather animalistic take: “menacingly wild, savage or hostile; violent in force, intensity, etc.” Yet this modern adjective has come to mean much more. To describe something or someone as “fierce” is to comment with admiration on their blend of confidence, originality, style and attitude. Fierce: a brazen form of fabulous, making a statement just for the fun of it. Tyra, despite her heaping dose of crazy, is a leading advocate for this new definition, sprinkling it liberally throughout both of her televised narcissism programs. The true creator of “fierce,” however, is Project Runway Season 4 winner Christian Siriano. His high-energy, high fashion persona was the standout of the season, and “fierce” (along with variations such as “fierce hot mess”) was his catchphrase. As Siriano proved, fierceness comes through in style, lifestyle and attitude.

The first, most obvious, way to be fierce is in personal style — the fashion choices made on a daily basis. Fierce style is not adherent to trends, but rather adapts them to suit a unique personal taste, accounting for figure flattery and personality. It’s that je ne sais quoi “Wow!” factor where everything works together, even if you’re not exactly sure how or why. Anyone with even the slightest sense of style knows fierce when they see it. A key element of truly fierce style is that it’s unexpected. Fierceness is not just for special occasions, but rather it is actually augmented when special pieces pop up for no reason at all, other than that they add to the outfit. My darling friend wore a burgundy silk turban to Ruloff’s last night, for example. Sexy fierce. It can also come from pairing pieces that not everyone would think to wear together, or from wearing something common in an uncommon way. Creatively mixing patterns, for example, or turning an interesting scarf into a belt. The possibilities are endless. Personally, I amp the fierceness by wearing plenty of bling. Vintage purple faux-diamond clip-ons to class? Yes, please.

Fierceness is also a lifestyle choice. It’s a commitment to rejecting boredom and monotony. As my grandmother would say, “Only boring people get bored.” To live fiercely does mean being reckless or even particularly spontaneous (though spontaneity certainly helps). It is simply the decision to make every occasion the most fun and memorable it can be. Living fiercely means not turning down opportunities for adventure, being open to new experiences. It can also be apparent in simple gestures, such as bringing craft glitter out to bars to throw in the air while dancing, as another friend did last night. I often bring the fierce to meals, as well. This can be accomplished through small indulgences — buying the slightly more expensive cheese, for example, or adding sliced apple to a sandwich. If you stop to look, you’ll find that fierceness, actually, is all around.

Finally, above all else, fierceness is an attitude. No one will think you are fierce if you don’t believe it yourself. This is what Tyra is referring to when she tells the models to “smeyez,” or smile with their eyes. The personality that comes through to others has to radiate from within. Maintaining this fierce attitude is a really positive force because it engenders creativity in everything from shoe choices to homework. I’ve also found that those I would describe as generally fierce tend to also be more upbeat and fun to be around. Thus, whether your particular ride is a motorcycle or a little tricycle with ribbons and a bell, clutching the handlebars of fierceness is a sexy and empowering way to go through life. After all, anything worth doing is worth doing with style.

Kenyon Cory is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at kcory@cornellsun.com. Rabbit Hole appears alternate Fridays this semester.

Original Author: Kenyon Cory