5 Ways to Use Grace Jones as Your Spirit Guide
5 Ways to Use Grace Jones as Your Spirit Guide
by Amy Trail
Do you fancy yourself as an interplanetary being whose sole purpose is to create avant-garde art? Or maybe you're just a bored account executive who's yearning to become the majestic scion of human consciousness? If either one of these sentences spoke to you in any meaningful way or you're just wanting to infuse your life with a little more badassery, read on.
Who is Grace Jones? Grace Jones is a Jamaican-born musician/artist/actor/model. Grace came from a deeply abusive and religious background and ascended to the highest reaches of the artistic world to become an international phenomenon. From her earliest days Grace had a unique presence and an unwavering belief in herself.
You may or may not be familiar with Grace Jones' body of work. She moved to Syracuse, New York when she was in her early teens and eventually moved to Manhattan to start a career in modeling. From there she parlayed into music, film and live performance. From the earliest days of her career, Grace offered something completely different from the hordes of blonde haired, white models. Grace was told early on that there was only room or one black model and in those days that model was Beverly Johnson. Did that stop Grace? Hell to the nah! At the age of 72, Grace is still going strong and performing spectacle-laden, pop-art influenced, fantasmagorical live shows.
We can learn so much from this amazingly talented, powerful woman. Even if you're not sure you're ready to stretch the boundaries acceptable of human behavior, you might be able to take a smidgen of Grace's bravado and add it to your life.
1.) Figure Out Who You Are By Trying New Things:
When you're first starting out as an adult, there's a lot of glib advice tossed at you like "Know who you are" and "Don't compromise your vision". What does this really mean though? Nothing. These sentences sound profound but there is no way to actually determine what they mean without attaching more context. This is the reason why a lot of young adults struggle with determining a path for their lives.
How do we begin to find out 'who we are'? We try new things and make ourselves uncomfortable over and over again till we stumble upon a path that feels genuine and true. Sometimes the thing that feels truthful to ourselves is outside of the norms that your friends and family deem acceptable. This can go both ways too, Maybe you come from a family of bohemian artists and you want to become an accountant or lawyer or [insert "normie" job type here]. Maybe you come from a family that looks down upon higher education and you want to become a literature professor. There's a wide range of ways to disrupt the unfair expectations that others have tried to make you heed. Make sure you try them all!
2.) Use Your Voice, Loudly When Needed:
Ms. Grace Jones has an amazing and powerful voice that she uses to create her transcendentally funky music. Her voice is strong, unwavering and regal. Grace also uses her voice as a tool to silence those who would try to minimize her, unfairly. This is just one of the many ways that Grace defies gender norms. Women aren't taught to properly yell. Top quality yelling is guttural, inherently loud and shatters conventions of normalcy for most women. Embrace this.
While yelling should be relegated to great moments of consequence, there is a time and a place to raise your voice. It's ok to yell at someone who is trying to pull a fast one on you. It's ok to yell at someone who is trying to rip you off. It's ok to yell at someone who is trying to hurt you. The notion that women must remain "contained" at all times should die now. Use your outside voice, girls!
If you need inspiration, check out this clip from Grace's 2017 documentary, "Bloodlight and Bami" Start at :33 for the good stuff.
3.) Be Your Own Definition What a Woman Is:
Gender norms can be stifling, for woman and men. Deconstructing those norms is liberating. Taking the best of the norms and molding them to your needs is really what the 21st century is all about.
Grace Jones has been destroying the concept of gender norms since way before many others were. In a quote from an interview in 1984 in Interview Magazine, Grace talks about her androgynous style. "I like dressing like a guy, I love it. The future is no sex. You can be a boy, a girl, whatever you want." Seems like the world is just now coming around to this kind of thought.
Throughout history, artists have been fashion renegades, battling what they see as constraining expectations of what's flattering and/or appropriate. Grace embraces the masculine and the feminine, bridging the two to create a style that's uniquely her own. The powerful male shoulder, the makeup that accentuates her already angular features, the dangling cigarette and the iconic short hair all make Ms. Jones look like something between boy and girl. That's exactly how she wants it.
Why not implement some of this androgyny into your own style? It can feel very powerful to put on a piece of clothing that is stereotypically the gender opposite of what you normally wear. The next time you find yourself saying, "I've nothing to wear," take a page from Grace's book and cross that fence that separates the boys and the girls.
4.) Adapt and Overcome:
If you've ever seen Grace in an interview you'll notice that her accent is not exactly placeable. Grace vacillates from your standard American accent to Mahattanite, Jamaican, British, Cockney and even affected French-English. Who knows what her "real" accent is. The larger point is that she adapts to the situation she's in, down to the way she speaks.
In the UK, one's accent tells an entire story of who you are. Grace decided to turn this concept on it's head and adopt a posh English accent in interviews. When she's in Jamaica, she takes on the accent of her early childhood, speaking in the lilting island manner that is so closely tied to Jamaica.
The take away is that Jones adopts a way of being in order to accommodate the situation at hand, while at the same time, remaining definitively "Grace". Maybe we can apply this to our lives as well by looking at new situations as a way to further diffuse the boundaries of what we consider to be our personalities.
5.) Dare to be Risqué:
There is no dispute that Grace Jones is drop-dead gorgeous, but her beauty is secondary to presence. Jones wears clothes with the dimensions of a real-life mannequin, but she is equally at home in nothing at all. Grace Jones is perfectly content to be naked at any juncture in the day or on stage.
While I may not advocate exposing oneself to unsuspecting individuals (consent is key), I do think there is something deeply liberating about forgetting one's clothes. Nudity is the base of what we are, but has often been viewed as being "base". Who decided that the human in its mostly elemental form, should be shameful? We probably know that answer to that question, so we should ask ourselves, why.
It's high time that we disconnected the concept of our self-worth being connected to the amount of clothing that we wear or not. This shame permeates the human (especially women) on a deep level. It's such a deep level that many people still feel shame in being naked even when it's appropriate. This shame crosses over even into the clothes that people wear.
Growing up in a sheltered and conservative community made me feel an inherent sense of shame about my body, I remember being scared to wear pants that fit, v-neck t-shirt (yes, v-necks!) and wearing my winter coat over my clothes all day long. It wasn't until I reached my late twenties that I was able to embrace the shape of my body. I wasted all those years wearing clothes that hid my body instead of clothes that celebrated it. I know now that this is body shame and it's quite unhealthy.
When you need a little inspiration about body confidence, look no further than Grace Jones. She wears what she wants and doesn't wear what she wants. From gender bending, cross-over clothing to nothing at all, Grace carries herself with.....well, Grace. Don't be afraid to push some buttons. After all, having a lifetime ban from Disneyland from flashing an audience is quite a badge of honor.
Amy Trail lives in New Orleans, LA and is a singer/songwriter/pianist, Professor of Songwriting at Loyola University and a wife to Jim and mother of two boys. Find out more about Amy at www.amytrail.com