I have to write about fashion today. For the body and for the face, the latter commonly known as beauty. That is my job.
Most of the time I like it. Although I am not a fashionista. I like pretty clothes and helping people feel comfortable in their own skin, which involves covering it with clothes.
But I often find myself having a contrarian relationship with fashion.
When people tell me "I don't care about fashion and beauty", I say Really? And yet you are not standing here naked before me.
Yet when confronted with a hard-core fashionista, who "lives for" fashion, has hundreds of shoes, or whatever, I shrug my shoulders and say, Whatever.
I tend to always want to be the balancer.
The fact is, fashion is important. It's an important cog in the wheel of our economy. It's what we live in every day. It is the literal fabric of our lives, and I believe that fabric is imbued with the emotions and events that the wearer has while inhabiting it. It is a tangible memory.
And it can make us feel good. That's important because when we feel good, feel confident, calm, secure, we're kinder to other people, more generous, more embracing.
Fashion is also a chronicle of history. We can tell from the arch of an eyebrow or size of a ruff if a portrait is from the 1570s or 1580s, for instance. It speaks volumes about a time period, reveals the prevailing mood, the economics of an era, the politics and personal.
I want people to feel good, and be kind but I probably like fashion best from the historical perspective. I like taking the long view.
As always, when confronted with conflicting feelings or opinions on a topic, I turn to Shakespeare, who often said, "It's all one."
But it doesn't feel like all one today. It feels so trivial in the light of the massacre that took place in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. During Hurricane Sandy there were floods of calls, emails, texts, etc., asking if I was OK. It was so sweet and I felt oddly guilty that my area of Manhattan was so remarkably unscathed. But the terrible losses for people who have been affected has resulted in a Shakespeare for Sandy benefit in which I am involved.
There were no calls from relatives yesterday when the tragedy in Newtown took place, because how could they know that dear dear friends of mine had moved up to the safe suburb to spare their kids city life. And one of those little boys was in that first grade classroom on the fateful morning.
Does tragedy cut deeper when there's a personal connection? Yes. Maybe it shouldn't be so but it is. Even though I know there are masses of people who take this terrible event to heart. And that should be so.
But today the alphabet blurs before my eyes and the keys get wet. Today my heart lives in my throat, and anger and sadness vie for attention. Today I can't tell you how to have shiny hair. Or smoother skin. Or about clothes that give you a flatter tummy. I'm sorry.
It's all one. We're all one. I send love to everyone who reads this column. And everyone who doesn't.