Saturday, August 05, 2006

BeneFit DePuffer Eye Gel

Darlings, it works!

Find it at under new products.

benefit de puffy
P.S. Keep it in the fridge for even more fun!

Facials and Office Touch-Up Kits

Two inquiries have come to PeaceBang, both of which she feels she can answer fairly quickly.

1. About facials:

I like Aveda products and personally use both their moisturizing masque and their tourmaline clay mask. Both work beautifully on my sensitive skin, and they're made of good ingredients. I use a mask at least weekly in the summer, since my skin gets more grimy and oily. I also make sure to exfoliate twice a week with Origins new-ish polishing product, which I think is called either Turn Around or New Beginnings, except that those might be old Chicago tunes. I think I'm confused. I'll look upstairs later.

I have written about these in the past, and about the Stonecrop Masque I adore.

Maybe someone will take pity on me and go through all these entries and categorize them. Could someone do that for me? I don't know how and I don't have the energy for it.

Before giving yourself a facial, wash your face of surface impurities. Put the facial product on your face, making sure you work it up into your hairline and over your neck and chest. Don't relax in the tub, as the thing won't dry as effectively. Relax in a cool place and close your eyes, and rub it off with a soft, CLEAN washcloth.

Do remember to launder your washcloths and towels regularly in the summer. They can get so especially moldy this time of year, since they don't dry properly.
Change your pillowcases often enough, too, and keep your hands away from your face.

2. Office Touch Up Kit

A dear and beautiful colleague and reader of this blog asks what key items we should keep in the office for emergencies and touch-ups. She lists such items as mouthwash and a sewing kit. I don't get that elaborate because I live down the block and can always run home if I rip the seat of my pants or have stinky breath. But I do keep floss, lipstick, hand sanitizer, a powder compact, breath mints, a lint roller, and No-Static spray at the office. A spare pair of pantyhose isn't a bad idea, either.

In my PURSE make-up bag, I carry a compact, blush, eyeliner, Advil, lipgloss, Purell hand sanitizer, tea tree dental piks, feminine items for emergencies, a tiny vial of my perfume, eyeglass wipers, a few barrettes, antacids and Lomotil (anti-diarrheal) in the side pocket, an eyebrow pencil, and safety pins.

And you wonder why my purse weighs so much!

PeaceBang Caught Half Nekkid!

PeaceBang believes in fresh air, lots of it, and freeing the skin from the confines of clothing whenever possible to get back in touch with the free nekkid you that you were when you went screaming through the sprinkler in a diaper.

Therefore, PeaceBang owns some one-piece bathing suits but in the summer, she wears men's bathing shorts and a bathing suit top that looks like a sports bra. There's a lot of cleavage and there's a big visible Buddha belly. Well, less firm than the Buddha.

But this is PeaceBang's reasoning: she wears constraining undergarments and pantyhose and bras and keeps covered up 10 months of the year. In the summer, she must be free.

She goes to local beaches maybe three times in the summer, always with a shirt with her that she can throw on if someone from church shows up.

Today, she was IN THE OCEAN splashing around when a congregant showed up!

What could she do!
Well, she could make the best of a bad situation and keep her bod under the water and invisible while being genuinely glad to see her really sweet and fun congregant who was herself adorable in a yellow bikini.
She could delight with her congregant that it was such a wonderful summer day, and say how great it is to get our bodies out into the air and the ocean, and to soak up the sun for all those dreary winter days we endure around here.

And then, on the verge of hypothermia and being late for her banjo lesson, she could finally walk out of the water (not ON the water, OUT of the water) with a big smile on her face and just be a human body like any other human body.

No, it's not the way I would have chosen to be seen if I had had fair warning.
I took a chance, and I got caught in public with way too much skin showing.

Will I stop airing out my flesh forever more?
Will I even stop airing out my flesh on local (two towns away) beaches?
Maybe. I'll think about it.

If Kathy, my congregant, knew I was thinking this way and regretting having run into her thus clad, would she cry?
She actually might. She would say, "Don't be RIDICULOUS! I was so glad to see you!"

A lot to think about there. We do want to model a polished image. And yet we also want to model what it is to cherish the body and live well in it.

I had a conversation recently with a woman who had a very big blemish of some kind on her nose. As we talked, she kept compulsively putting her hand up to sort of cover the blemish, signalling to me that she was very self-conscious about it. Yet all I was thinking was, "What a wonderful, talented lady this is. I wish we lived closer so I could spend some more time with her, because she's something else."

What can I tell ya. Love the skin you're in.

Does God Call Us To Comfort In Any Wise?

When I had gone fully into elastic waistbands and full, hempen floppy look during my ministry in Maryland, I believed that comfort came first. I am a strong feminist, and I knew I could look appropriate and professional in comfortable clothes.

I had a few really sharp items for appearances at the state house or into Washington, DC for political activism, or for guest lecturing or conferences. I didn't feel that it was necessary to compete in any sartorial way with really put-together professional women. I was, after all, a minister. A spiritual leader. Why should I make an effort to project any image in particular?

I believe that it is a point of feminist pride for most women to say, "I value comfort over fashion." I am definitely not knocking Zorra for saying this in a recent comment, but grateful to her for reminding me how often I hear this among the clergy, and how strongly I protest its underlying sense of superiority and difference from other public leaders.

Let me say something about feminism and comfort. I believe that women in powerful positions should look powerful, or at least in control of their image and mindful of it. I believe that women in ministry have huge issues with power -- ambivalence about its appropriateness, in the first place -- and reflect that in their comfy Mother Earth outfits.

I don't believe that we do justice to our calling by looking intentionally unconcerned with the dictates of fashion.

Place a female executive and a female cleric side by side (or a male executive and a male cleric, for that matter), and see who looks ready to lead, to make decisions, to command respect, and to take responsibility. It won't be the guy in the tie with the children's hands motif. It won't be the woman in the batik muu-muu with the enormous pendant, the floppy cotton pants, and the sandals, with the big scrubbed face and the flat, unstyled hair.

Ministers today tend to visually project comfort, giving church-goers and religious seekers the idea that religious life is unthreatening and that it will require nothing of them beyond a juice-and-cookies kind of warmth and fellowship.

I don't think this does justice to our calling or to the urgent relevance we assign to an engaged religious life.

I made a conscious decision when I moved to Massachusetts to tighten up, to buy some belts and zip-button trousers, to find a tailor, to wear heels, to hold myself accountable to fit into clothes of a determinate size rather than fill my closet with fat-accomodating "comfortable" items. I still have plenty of comfortable things, and I don't spend a lot of time dressing up for every day, but I'm so glad I caught myself before I became another projector of the Church-Is-Like-Going-To-Grandma-And-Grandpa's image.

I think this issue is dead serious, so I'll refrain from my usual PeaceBang snarkiness. My readers can flood the comments section with testimonials about the beauty of their batik muu-muu or the theological justification for their Birkenstocks, and that's fine. I hear you. I know you, and I love you. But I am trying to change the tide here, and that's not going to happen by our individual defense of what is currently a woefully dowdy group of people who have a woefully dowdy public image.

Simply put, I don't believe God calls us to comfort in the work of ministry.

P.S. When you wear structured clothing on a regular basis, they become comfortable. I can walk just as briskly in a fitted skirt as I can in a huge A-line tent. It took some getting used to, and yes, I have to be more ladylike getting in and out of the car. That's not a bad thing. Heels are comfortable now. I purchase them carefully, with an eye for comfort and swifness of movement, and I possess many pairs that I can spend the day in with no pain at all.

Best of all, when I've put some effort into my outfit, I can stand side by side with any public leader in any profession and feel an equal, not like the One So Holy She Is Beyond Fashion, which actually translates to other people as One So Out Of It She's Dressed Like a Frump.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Banish Elastic Waists!

L'il Flava just said something about Comfort Pants recommended by Caroline Divine with which I must concur:

"There's comfort and then there's schlummpage."

Even in black, yoga or workout pants are not appropriate professional wear. Big, floppy cotton pants with no shape to them (and tapered ankles don't count as "shape") are one of the most obvious ways to separate frumpy from fab. I KNOW we all love our floppy cotton pants from Flax and other hempy companies. I'm just saying that they're not doing anyone looking for a sharp look any favors.

Ladies, PeaceBang is a fat, short girl with short legs and a serious jungle pouch. It is hard work for her to find pants, but she works assiduously to avoid anything with an elastic waist and a huge, floppy cotton butt. She doesn't always succeed, but dammit, she puts in the effort. She insists on wearing pants that button and zip because she knows that if she doesn't, it's too easy to become a big, soft marshmallow and flumf around in clothes resembling sweatsuits, with so much material that the tushie is all over the place and you can't even find the thighs inside the legs of the pants.

As Sister of PeaceBang once said, "The bigger the shirt, the bigger the girl." Her point was, "don't try to hide a chunky body inside huge, shapeless garments. We all know it's in there."

Pants are notoriously hard to find and to fit. That's why you should spend serious time and effort finding cuts that work for you, plan to get them tailored when necessary, and buy two or three pairs when you find some goodies.

P.S. Just because skinny jeans are totally in this year doesn't mean you should wear them. Tapered legs are also very au courant, but if you're not slim and long of leg, and have an otherwise very au courant wardrobe, don't bother. Stay with the classics, and if you're short and have chubby legs, stick with bootcut trousers.

Miraculous Knock-Offs!

I know I shouldn't get this emotional about things like this, but see these shoes?

steve madden shoe
They're Steve Maddens, they retail for about $80, and they're 4" tall with an extreme pitch that made me feel like I was going to tip over on my face when I tried them on at Nordstrom's a year ago.

But yet I loved them.
I tried them on at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Again, the pitching forward. The inability to walk in them.

Today, I found an incredible pair of knock-offs of this exact shoe by PAYLESS, for $20. Best of all, they're only 3" heels so I can walk comfortably in them and no pitching forward on my face.

PeaceBang is delirious!!
Do you know how HARD it is to find really good knock-offs???

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Closet Smarts" Is Out!!

My beautiful fashion diva friend Emily Neill has published a new book called Closet Smarts that I have yet to see, but am sure is full of terrific advice and counsel, because Emily herself is full of terrific advice and counsel. I saw her on the street a few months ago and she paid me a huge compliment about my outfit, which was simply that I know how to dress. This kind of affirmation from a pro warms the cockles of PeaceBang's little heart.

Here is a link to Emily's web site, which includes a link to her fashion blog:

Having skimmed through Emily's blog, I can tell you that she's way more sexy, fashionable and trim than the average clergy gal of MY acquaintance but it's still fun to see the looks she puts together. Lots of glamor, lots of bare arms and shiny things we wouldn't wear as clergy, but still fun. She is one of those urban chic contemporary babes you see in the window of the most tony new bar, throwing back a martini and laughing wickedly as you trudge by in your Land's End A-line skirt feeling terribly dowdy in comparison.

But don't!! We cannot have that! Emily has her master's degree from none other than Harvard Divinity School, so even though she's sleek and elegant as hell, she is a sister in faith and this is her calling.

So buy her book, read her blog, and let her inspire you out of that Land's End A-line denim skirt and into a much more flattering pencil skirt. Or if you're a chubby gal, like PeaceBang, into a knee-length tulip skirt that shows off your great legs and highlights your wonderful ankle-strap pumps.

Think you can't rock it with your lumpy physique? Sure you can. You just need to hold everything in with appropriately constraining undergarments (and I'm talking bigger guns than just control top pantyhose, girls) and top it all off with a flattering blazer and collared shirt. Trust me. Would I lie to you? And who says you can't discuss liturgy in ankle-strap pumps?

Go buy "Closet Smarts." Let me know how much you love it, and I'll let Emily know. We're due to throw back some martinis and laugh wickedly in some tony joint soon. I think I'll wear a big, long Land's End A-line denim skirt just to give her a kick.

Love And Care For All Of You

As we head into autumn and back-to-school time, it behooves even the cleric to think of the fall as a new start. No matter how chronologiclaly distant we are from living within the rhythms of the school year, the Fall Equinox and the Jewish High Holy Days give pagans and monotheists an equal opportunity to reconsider how we're living and how we'd like to serve our Lord from a deeper, stronger and more beautiful place.

How will you head into the fall in terms of beauty and public persona?

Have you cleaned out your closet in the past few years? I mean REALLY cleaned it out? Been willing to part with (or have tailored) even slighty stained t-shirts, comfortably drab and sagging garments, favorite oldies that strain at the seams or fall off, bags whose straps are frayed and cracked, and literally holy socks and shoes? If you haven't been willing to do so, you are embracing poverty not as a spiritual virtue but as a character flaw, and making a passive aggressive visual statement about how unvalued you feel. And that's ugly.

Have you looked at yourself naked lately, taken a good honest look, been to the doctor, and honestly assessed how you're treating your Temple? Have you gone beyond the numbers of weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart rate and pulse, T-cells, et al to ask yourself, "How do I feel in my body? Do we have a good relationship? Am I giving my body enough fresh air, rest, good food, movement, laughter, sex, joy, freedom? Am I cherishing this good gift well enough?

Does my physical exterior serve as an honest and appropriate representation of the state of my soul? If I look and feel shabby, can my spirit be far behind?

Have I cleared out poisonous chemical foods from my cabinet, thrown away dead spices, expired vitamins and medications, and changed the water filter lately? Am I giving myself facials with products that were given to me three Christmases ago and now have a thick layer of bacteria on the lid of the jar, because I was loath to use the gift as soon as I received it?

Am I bathing every day in a tub that I haven't scrubbed in months, trying to get clean among soap scum and mold? Why? "

Friends, we are soldiers in the army of the Lord. I know some of you may shudder at the militance of that statement, but it's Biblical and I embrace it. Our weapons in the fight are love and compassion, strength of spirit, joy, beauty, humor, and faith.
Those weapons are not instantly at our disposal simply for the wishing. We must clothe ourselves in this armor with intentionality and confidence, believing ourselves worthy to wear it. We cannot do this by slogging around entirely in our heads, regarding our bodies merely as containers for our big, impressive brains and stubbornly insisting on projecting hostility to an aesthetic sensibility shared by most of the world.

From head to toe, you are a vessel of God. It is not frivolous or selfish to love and care for the feet that take you walking through your parishes. It is not selfish or frivolous to ove and care for the arms that you wrap around the grieving. It is not frivolous or selfish to love and care for the face that shines on your people with the message of love and grace your words can never fully express. It is not frivolous or selfish to love and care for your hands, that do the work of Love both menial and mighty, or to vigilantly guard, love and care for your good hearts, that bear so much care on behalf of others. It is not overly luxurious or sinfully sensuous to love and care for all your epidermis, that clothes the miracle of what lies underneath. It is no sin to know who you are and care well and unapologetically for all of it, in the knowledge of Whose you are.

Go ye and groom ye to the high office to which you are called.

Fun Bag Blog

Courtesy of L'il Flava

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Speak To Us Of Brushes

Caroline Divine wants to look divine, so she asks about make-up brushes.

PeaceBang is SO glad someone asked.

Brushes actually are important, and it's worth your time and money to have a few good ones on hand.

Sonya Kashuk makes fine brushes you can find at Target, and you can find a wide variety at Sephora if you have one nearby. PeaceBang has so many brushes its ridiculous, although some of them are remnants from stage make-up kits she purchased long ago.
Natural hair brushes don't usually wear out if you take good care of them, and I think they're worth the investment. Shu Uemura makes wonderful squirrel brushes.

PeaceBang thinks that everyone should have the following brushes:

1. A really big, fluffy brush for whisking transclucent powder all over the face (to either set make-up so it lasts, or to get rid of shine on a bare, moisturized face).
Men, don't be afraid of a little bit of powder. If you do it right, no one will know. If you have oily skin and a bald pate, use a big powder brush lightly dusted with translucent powder to cut the shine. That is, unless you enjoy having people reflect more on your reflective noggin than on your sermon.
(Have you checked the lighting in your church to see where it hits?)

2. A good blush brush -- not too soft and fluffy that you can't work with it --that you wash in mild shampoo or special brush cleaner at least once a month. 'Nuff said. You don't need special contouring brushes or anything like that. Dab your brush into the blush, whirl it around, blow on the brush or dab it on your arm to get rid of excess, smile, and blend the blush into the apples of your cheeks. Don't get too far up near the eye, and don't bring too much color out toward your ears. For a youthful touch, LIGHTLY brush A TINY BIT OF color on your the top of your forehead, the end of your nose, and your chin.

3. A "finger" brush, shaped like the end of your pinky, for application of eye shadow on the lid. Especially as we age and our lids get creased, the finger brush is a little miracle and will keep you from applying your eyeshadow unevenly.

PeaceBang cannot stress this enough: even if you wear NO make-up at all, you should consider buying a foundation that matches your skin tone and using it, well-blended, on your eyelid and under your eyes. PeaceBang sees WAY too many beautiful women in the pulpit who have sunken, shadowed eyes that could really benefit from the most natural kind of brightening: a bit of blended base (over moisturizer that's had enough time to sink in) and a brightening powder (Revlon Skinlights!). The finger brush will be your best friend in applying the brightening shadow, which a finger or Q-tip simply cannot adequately cover.

It is SO worth spending a minute or two on this every morning, or in the evening before appointments. Women with darker olive skins most especially tend to become shadowy as they get tired, and can wind up looking positively bruised around the eye area. If you don't want to look quite that dramatically exhausted, use a very blendable base and a soft fawn color on your lids. Have the lady at the make-up counter show you if you're intimidated.

Those are the basics. Of course, if you're PeaceBang you also have brushes for lining the eye, lining the lips, dotting concealer on blemishes, and so on, but you don't need all that nonsense.

L'Oreal He Man Skin Products

This is the most darling thing. L'Oreal has put out a line called Men's Expert Skin Care and you can find all the products here:

What I find so hilarious is the names of the products. No French here. No euphemistic expressions like you'll see with women's beautification items. No, sir. We're talking to the boys here, and they've got to know what they're buying.

You get things like, "Anti-Dullness Scrubber" and "Laugh Liner Wiper-Away-er" and "Smoother Facer After Shaver."
I'm not being accurate, but you can look for yourself and see what I mean.

I saw every single one of these products in my friend Petey's medicine cabinet in Montreal and he says he likes them. Except for the moisturizer, which makes his skin too shiny.

Peter also uses Banana Creme Moisturizing Shampoo from Body Shop, which he loves. I used it and not only was my hair fresh and bouncy on the hottest bloody day on record, every monkey in town asked me for a date.

Quo Is De Trop!

Dearest readers,
As you may know, PeaceBang has been scampering about Quebec and Ontario clad in sweaty t-shirts, horrid Keene sandals that look like snow tires, and big floppy hats. As is her wont in the summertime, she has given herself over entirely to her inner 3-year old who wants nothing more than to cavort nakey through the sprinkler, and wears less and less clothing as July turns to August.

Of course she does this an entire country away (& always in the privacy of a wooded lake cabin or fenced in backyard) so that she will never, ever be seen by any congregants, past, present or future. No one but you and I need to know that she wears an ancient tiger-print bathing suit top and enormous men's swimming trunks to swim in and to sun her flab in. That will be our little secret.

PeaceBang took an adventurous little side trip to Ottawa to meet someone with whom she has had an internet friendship of two years (we met as commenters on Go Fug Yourself when they had comments! Isn't that de trop?) and just knew he was a true soul mate when he indulged her a full hour in the make-up aisles of the drugstore.

They had at least FOUR make-up lines that we don't have in the United States, including one called Quo!!

Quo!! Is that not chic?
Unfortunately, although PB carefully scouted all the new goods for you, she could find nothing truly new or innovative to recommend, and went away empty-handed.

Stay tuned for MALE SKIN GROOMING TIPS from our colleague in Montreal!

Those Boots Were Made For Walking

Booty, did you ask me about whether ministers should wear thigh-high boots, or was I hallucinating?

Is there a dear reader of this blog named Bootsy or Booty (Booty? dear Lord, I hope not!), and did you ask something about tight leather boots?

Darling, use your best judgment. Boots should be solid and not trampy, and for heaven's sake, nothing above the knee unless you're moonlighting in a profession that's even older than ministry.