For Pretty's Sake

Loving good design and gratitude can go hand-in-hand

I always have soulful conversations with Charlie Brackney when he’s cutting my hair at Haus Salon. (Don’t you love that about your stylist?) At my last appointment, we were chatting about occupations. Charlie is dating Brent, a VIP at American Refugee Committee, which is a well-respected worldwide nonprofit organization. Charlie was telling someone this recently, and they asked him how, as a hair stylist, it felt to date someone “like that,” insinuating that there was a drastic gap between the two men’s career choices.

Needle off the record. What? “First of all, I consider cutting hair to be a noble profession,” Charlie began to say. I knew where this was going and jumped in: “Because who doesn’t feel amazing after a great haircut and blowout?” But even more to the point, Charlie said, it’s “helping people express outside what they feel inside. And there’s value in that.”  I agreed—I see it when we transform people each month for the magazine.

But Charlie’s boyfriend, Brent, had the best response when he heard about the comment: “People need bread and roses.” In fact, that concept is something of a philosophy in his organization.

Bread and roses. Have you heard this idea before? It’s something I think about from time to time—I love the premise. The idea is that, even within the refugee communities Brent works with, all people need to be sustained by both basic life requirements—actual food, water, shelter, air—but also soul food; the beauty and visual luxury that life can bring. The roses.

This concept comes into sharp relief this season especially. We think and talk about gratitude while making wish lists of luxuries. We volunteer in soup kitchens or donate toys to children in need while dreaming of cashmere sweaters and leather gloves. We feel thankful FOR our leather gloves. It gets complicated, fast.

But the truth of it is, humankind has been celebrating beauty for thousands of years. Unearthed pottery and sculpture, hieroglyphs of women wearing makeup, the layout of ancient civilizations—there’s evidence everywhere. Sometimes, we need pretty for pretty’s sake. And we shouldn’t feel bad about that—we all deserve to have a beautiful life. Just make sure to share.