Updated: Jun 22, 2019
Are you a Thelma – Grace or Louise – Frankie? For those who may not recognize these names, Thelma and Louise are from the 1991 Ridley Scott movie starring Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise.
Thelma, a meek housewife, was resistant to spontaneity, not much for taking chances and “stuck” in who she was. Louise, on the other hand, was a waitress prone to acting before thinking, flirtatious, and putting the pedal to the floor and just going for it.
In the same vein, the current pop culture pair are Grace, played by Jane Fonda, and Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin in the current, popular series on Netflix. Grace is the uptight, conservative, “rich bitch”, while her best friend, Frankie, is flighty, follows her “inner voice”, lets it all hang out, doesn’t ask for permission, and often doesn’t bother with the forgiveness either.
So, I repeat – are you Thelma/Grace or Louise/Frankie? I think most of us identify more strongly with one or the other in terms of our behaviors and tendencies. Much of this is to do with our upbringing, environment, and experiences. And then it all just becomes ingrained as habit.
What if, at some point, you realize that you’ve spent a greater majority of your life as Grace and you want a little more Frankie in you? How do you change from one pair of shoes to the other? I think our society tends to promote the Grace/Thelma paradigm, and especially for women. Yes, still today – especially for women. We’re told we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way in order to conform to expectations and be the good little girl. God forbid you say something in an assertive but collegial way at work, lest you be considered bossy or bitchy. Or if you decide to wear something that makes you look and feel good but happens to be just a teeny bit “peek-a-boo”, you’re that slutty wench looking to take down anyone’s man.
The question becomes how to create more Louise or Frankie moments and lose the worry about judgment. In other words, how to BE FRANKIE and not give a damn about what anyone else thinks. So long as you’re not doing something to hurt anyone, what does it matter that you don’t stay in that perfect little box?
I’ve been Grace or Thelma pretty much all my life. Striving to be that perfectly coiffed person, following all the little rules (and even working in jobs that require me to be the rule-enforcer), keeping my mouth shut when I really wanted to say something from a position of confidence and assertion, and rarely taking risks. And when I’ve failed at meeting that perfection, I’ve flogged myself silently and vowed to do better next time to stay in the little box of expectations.
Then just over a year ago, the Louise to my Thelma, the Frankie to my Grace entered my life – Kristina. Kristina is the embodiment of both of those women – spontaneous, lets it all hang out, follows her inner voice, and when it tells her to leap, she oftentimes will do just that.
Don’t get me wrong – as a working mother with other obligations in life, there’s some Grace and Thelma in there, but she truly embodies the spirit of Frankie, the spontaneous determination of Louise. She came across my path at just the right time for me - when I was at a point where I needed to get a hell of a lot more Louise in my life.
When I hesitate to listen to that little Louise voice that says, “just do it, who gives a damn what they think?”, she’s right there saying, “Thelma, take your foot off that brake. You KNOW this is right – this is what you’re meant and want to do, so DRIVE.”
But on the flipside, when the Frankie in her comes out and she is looking to test the waters by putting in just a toe as opposed to just jumping, she looks to my Grace to pull her back and see things from the other side. You could say we’re the two sides making up the full coin.
So, if you’re a bit too much Grace and want to have more freedom by channeling some of that Frankie but you really have a hard time stepping out of those perfect little pumps and into the beach flip flops, think about who you already know that wears those flip flops. Spend more time with him or her. Maybe even ask to borrow a pair and walk the beach together. Stick that toe into the water. Wear something a little daring. Challenge the status quo – even on a small scale.
Change is damn hard, especially if those perfect little pumps fit so well, you almost can’t get them off. Even if they pinch, they’re familiar. You have no clue how to walk in those flip flops. But you gotta start somewhere.
The first step (yes, pun intended) is to trust your inner voice. If you tune in and really listen to it, it won’t steer you wrongly. Trust that voice when it calls to you. When Frankie whispers in your ear, “let’s go play today, I want to dance”, try listening to that whisper. Dance just once and see how it feels. Don’t ask for permission and forget that forgiveness business. If you’re dancing for yourself and not hurting anyone, you don’t need that permission, nor do you need that forgiveness. That’s the Grace and Thelma in your little box pushing to take over again.
Pick up the phone, dial up your Louise and go dance. Look for all the ways you can discover #beFrankie moments in your life. Embrace the freedom that spontaneity brings and do something for that inner child within you. Who knows? You just might trade in those pumps for a pair of flip flops as you dance your way in to work.