Buddies, chums, mates, pals, maybe even confidante? No matter what you call them, friends are the cherry on the sundae of life.
Here are five great friends that every woman needs in her life – and a list of movies to watch with them. Because girlfriends and good movies go together like chocolate and ice cream.
Groucho Marx said: “When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be sitting in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun!’”.
Hopefully no one lands in jail, but a good bit of fun never hurt anyone. Quite the opposite. Sometimes it takes someone we trust, and possibly a little innocent rule or norm breaking, to pull us out of a funk when we let things get too serious. Life can definitely be heavy, and that’s why we need a friend who knows that laughter can sometimes be the best medicine.
In the movie Steel Magnolias, Olympia Dukakis saves us all from total desperation as we watch Sally Fields lose her mind in the cemetery after the death of her daughter. When Sally sobs that she just wants to hit someone, to hit them hard, Olympia shoves Shirley MacLaine forward encouraging Sally to ‘knock her lights out”. The moment is so heavy with sadness and loss that everyone present – including the audience – is unable to keep the tears from falling. But with that one perfectly timed joke, that one desperate shot in the dark, Olympia is able to pull everyone back from the brink of despair and call forth a bit of mirth from the desolation.
We should all be so lucky to have a friend like that. Not only one who is willing to chance a risky venture in order to pull us back from the edge when everything seems lost – but one who understands us well enough to know when the risk will pay off.
The One With Righteous Anger
Just as important as a friend who can laugh is one who can get angry, and righteously so. We live in a time where women are still fighting for equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment in society. The changes brought about by our foremothers were largely due to well-placed and righteous anger at the wrongs they saw around them.
Author Robin Rice said, “But the wise woman allows her anger to steep and mature, working its way to becoming a positive force in the world.”
In your own life you might be tempted to back away from conflict. You may have a hundred reasons why it is easier to keep the peace in any given situation. And sometimes that will be the best course of action. But sometimes it won’t. A friend who models righteous anger will help you see that anger is allowed – and doesn’t have to equal mean. Anger is a reasonable reaction to injustice, and the best way to fight injustice is to shine a light on it.
In the movie First Wives Club, actress Diane Keaton is at a meeting with her therapist, played by Marcia Gay Harden. In the meeting, the therapist tries to engage Diane’s righteous anger at her husband for the way he is treating her as they navigate their divorce. Marcia tells Diane to get angry – entices Diane to hit her with a foam bat. Diane resists, giggling nervously, but eventually taps Marcia lightly with the bat.
Marcia doubles down on her efforts, throwing a light insult or two. At which point Diane unleashes all of her pent-up frustrations with a series of whacks about Marcia’s head and face, ruffling her hair and dislodging an earring. Afterwards, both women seem slightly shocked by the event, but Diane is visibly less tense and goes on to stand up for herself with her husband in a way she can feel proud of.
Each of the first wives in that movie, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton go on to encourage each other to find their righteous anger in the face of unfair treatment. And not only do they stand up for themselves, they use their anger to stand up for other women too. They hit a few bumps along the way – anger is never an easy emotion to navigate – but they are committed to each other and their ultimate goal is not only empowerment of themselves – but to the women of the world around them.
The friend with righteous anger brings the lesson that sometimes anger is necessary, even when it feels scary or unfamiliar, and that with the support of a friend who loves you, it can bring about great and necessary change in your life and the life of others.
The Lie Detector
Everyone needs a friend who knows them well enough to not let them get away with lying to themselves. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our own lives that it becomes difficult or impossible to see what isn’t working anymore. We might have a vague feeling that something needs to change or we might know it with certainty but feel unable to share it. That’s where a friend who can see through your stuff – and isn’t afraid to tell you – can come in quite handy.
In the movie Mona Lisa Smile a group of students at Wellesley College in 1953 struggle with the idea of truth. Each of the women in the movie, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst and Ginnifer Goodwin are struggling to sort out what they want out of their lives and what others want them to make of their lives. The central theme of the movie is living your truth in the face of society’s differing viewpoints on the role of women in the world.
Kirsten Dunst’s character is firmly following in her mother’s footsteps – has been planning her wedding for her entire life and only sees her time at Wellesley as another checkmark on her pedigree, an extra bonus in snagging the perfect husband. She judges others harshly through the lens of her editorial column in the school paper, but underneath she yearns for love and acceptance for who she is. In a moving scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal Kirsten’s character unleashes a torrent of vile judgements on Maggie but Maggie only reaches out to envelop Kristen in a hug. Maggie’s kindness and willingness to see beyond the hurtful words of her friend to the pain that is causing them, and her choice of compassion rather than rage allows Kristin to the see the truth – that the judgements she is showering on others would be best turned inward. Maggie’s support allows her to do that and by the end of the movie she has begun to make the necessary changes in her life to feel true and authentic happiness.
It is a lucky woman, indeed, who counts among her friends one who can see straight through the lies she is telling herself and has the courage to call them out with love and forgiveness.
Just as important as a friend who won’t let us get away with getting it wrong is one who will cheer us on when we are getting it right.
Self-doubt is a nasty business and a friend who will stand by you and pump you up when the going gets tough can be invaluable. When you can only see your failures, a good friend who loves you for your triumphs and is more than happy to list them for you is absolutely precious. Perhaps this, more than anything, is the quality we most seek out in our friends.
In the movie Waiting to Exhale four friends are just living their lives ‘waiting to exhale’ – waiting for the time when they can relax into their relationships without worrying that it will all go wrong somehow. The tagline for the film is “Friends are the people who let you be yourself – and never let you forget it.”
In the film the four friends are all struggling with heartbreak and hope, love and loss, friendship and fidelity. And through it all they support each other, each reminding the others of the beauty they hold within – even as they struggle to see the beauty within themselves. They come together in a beautiful scene, surrounded by wine and cake, to prop each other up and cheer each other on – reminding each other of the beauty and the wisdom and the unwillingness to be a doormat that each of them possesses. They eat, drink and are merry together as a means to build each other up when they feel as if they are being torn down – and isn’t that exactly what friends are for?
The One Who Doesn’t Make Sense
Author Doe Zantamata said: “When I see you through my eyes, I think that we are different. When I see you through my heart, I know we are the same.”
As our world continues to evolve in the direction of inclusiveness, acceptance and diversity – what better way to support these necessary developments than to make friends in unexpected places? A friend who comes from a completely different landscape than you not only has the ability to show you a side of life you might never have seen otherwise, but also can show you parts of yourself you never knew existed.
In the movie The Help the theme of friendship is complicated and full of danger. Set in Jackson, Mississippi the story follows the lives of black maids working in white households in the early 1960’s. As heavy as the topic is, there are still plenty of laughs and lots of great examples of strong women standing up together against injustice.
One of the highlights of the film are the friendships that develop between characters whose lives couldn’t be more different. Skeeter and Abilene, played by Emma Stone and Viola Davis, couldn’t come from more different backgrounds – or have more odds stacked against them as they attempt to create a bridge between their lives. They see a commonality in each other despite their differences, and are able to use their shared experiences to shed a light on the truly terrible discrimination and inequality that the black maids must face in order to survive.
A friend who lives a completely different life than you holds the keys to parts of you that might otherwise stay locked forever.
To have a friend…
Even though time seems to speed up around the holidays, or perhaps exactly because it does, it’s extra important to take time to not only feel grateful for good friends, but also to carve out special time to spend with them and show them how much they mean to us. After all, as the saying goes – the best way to find a friend is to be one!
The five friendships listed here have the potential to lift you up when you are feeling down, ground you when you are getting ahead of yourself, and give you a much-needed kick in the pants when you are dropping the balls of life. You need a mix of all of these things to get from sun-up to sun-down and how lucky you don’t have to do it all alone!
So, take a moment in the hustle and bustle this holiday season to reflect on your friendships. Do you have all five friendships listed here? Which one are you in the lives of others? Break out your prettiest stationary and start writing those thank-you cards – share this article and let your friends know what they bring to your life. Schedule a night to have the ladies over for movies and wine, stock up on tissues and chocolate, put a date down on the calendar and see who surprises you by showing up!
And if you find you are missing one of these relationships and feel their absence in your life, perhaps taking the time to develop those qualities within yourself is a great first step to attracting more of the same.
Anais Nin said: “Each friend represents world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”