Noun, an impressive achievement that has been accomplished with great skill, a masterful performance.
Dear Jane Family,
I deliberately picked the phrase “tour de force” for our new gear. It’s a phrase that I first encountered in high school. Back then, my friends and I cycled through people trying to identify those that might qualify for such a lofty descriptor. We tried different figures on for size, weighing and measuring to see if their legacy fit the bigness of the term. Our examples, drawn from years of classes in History, Literature, Social Studies, Science and Math, leaned toward extraordinary feats performed by male protagonists, across historical accounts and fictional narratives.
I wondered if I would ever have occasion to claim the word for my life or to describe others close to me with such high praise.
As an adult, I do, all the time. And now, I use the term overwhelmingly to describe women. I see you, working to reset gender norms and change the composition of the powerful institutions all while holding your optimism in front of you like a shield. That feat is a tour de force. The examples I draw from for this epithet are no longer dominated by talented men, but from hard working, brilliant female protagonists. Your work inspires mine. You are a tour de force.