Work should be balanced with sleep. Energy consumption should be balanced with energy production. A long face should be balanced with a longer neckline. Balance is vital and when we lose that balance a state of emergency can occur: too much energy production in a human can lead to heart disease or too much energy consumption can lead to obesity.
Similarly society requires a balance between business and the arts. General profit making activities should be balanced with creative activities produced simply for an emotional response, very often pleasure. To a capitalist society this may seem very idealistic. The clue is in the name: we prize capital, we recognise the rewards of acquiring capital. The arts are an add-on that are often the preserve of those with a surplus of capital.
This can also be a charge directed at those of us who enjoy the clothes we wear – they’re an add-on. A utilitarian approach would consider clothes simply to be garments that preserve our modesty and our health. But a creative approach to our wardrobes recognises that our clothes are a daily opportunity to communicate non-verbally. Dare I claim to say that they are an opportunity for those of us who cannot play music, paint or dance to express ourselves? And when we do this well we feel far more confident. We’re not hiding behind bland clothes or the uniform of a suit, we’re taking the time to think about our clothes and by doing so help those we’re with know that today we want to… be sexy, take control, have fun or chill out.
Being creative and enjoying the arts should not be the preserve of a minority. When I worked in Bucharest from 1990 to 1993 I was able to attend a diverse range of the arts, from opera and classical music to a large-scale drama production set in a warehouse. These events were well attended. Although Ceaucescu’s dictatorship had reduced the country to poverty the communist ideal of an equal society had made the arts available to the public at a reasonable price. In the current economic climate it’s likely that the arts will suffer – just at a time when we need them most. Our appearance may be another area that we consider a luxury, an area to economise. But we can learn more from the time immediately post-communism in Eastern Europe.
The Romanian people may have been financially poor in the early 90’s but they prized the arts and conversation in a way that I’ve never experienced since. Similarly they had little money to spend on clothes and cosmetics but I remember very clearly my shock when a friend led me through a dark street to a her local hairdresser, a poorly lit salon that appeared to be closed yet upon pushing the door open was found to be buzzing with energy and chatter, as a crowd of women enjoyed manicures and pedicures, as well as the normal hairdressing services. They appreciated the importance of being creative, of enjoying their appearance, especially in challenging times.
I would encourage each of us to resist the temptation to economise in any area of creativity. I believe that supporting the arts allows us to consider our inner selves and “being the art” through the development of our appearance (our clothes, accessories, make up and hairstyle) allows us to convey who we truly are to those we share our lives every day. Achieving a balance between the practical function of protection with these creative purposes allows us to truly enjoy our appearance and feel confident in what we wear.