The What's Underneath Project

The What's Underneath Project

Run by mother and daughter creators Elisa and Lily of StyleLikeU, the What's Underneath Project has been a movement for the past four years. The premise of the web series is pretty simple: individuals are interviewed about their style and what it means to them, whilst 'stripping off' that style so they are left in just their underwear (or whatever they feel most comfortable in) as their authentic and real selves. 

The idea of watching strangers strip off and tell their life stories might seem strange and a bit daunting, but the results of the series have been incredible. The interviewees are diverse, from a plethora of backgrounds - some famous, some not, some old and some young. One things for sure: they're all incredibly inspirational. 

The interviewers create a safe and open atmosphere, meaning the people being interviewed are open and honest in their answers to Elisa and Lily's questions. Some stories can be pretty difficult, but all of them show the strength and resilience of the individuals on camera. The direction of the series is beautiful, and is highly representative of the way people - in all their shapes in sizes - truly are.

There are a few stories of survivors, some of which I will include below, which are affirming, relatable, and quite hard to watch at times. But what comes through most in these survivors stories is their strength and resilience against what has tried to break them. My favourite question asked through the series is 'Why is your body is it a good place to be?' - the answers are complex and vast, but my favourite answer from Bethany in the London open-call is that her body is the place that was there when she hugged the people she loved. As cheesy as it is, the name rings true, and it is a lovely, calming presentation of what's really underneath people when they open up and get honest with others (and themselves).

I have watched most of the web series, and there are over 100 I believe, but I'll try and dwindle it down to the top few: 

TW: drug addiction, alcoholism

A model minus the airs, Adwoa Aboah founded Gurls Talk so that young girls could have a safe space to get super real about the issues that Adwoa herself has confronted, including depression, drugs, and overcoming self-hate.

TW: ableism

We asked model Melanie Gaydos to participate in the What's Underneath Project because she bears witness to our belief that style Is not about wanting to be someone else, Is comfort in your skin, Is your spirit, Is What's Underneath.

TW: islamophobia, racism

Society's widespread Islamophobia won't derail Muslim Girl founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh's from her mission to shed the stereotypes about Muslims. Her journey shows that there is nothing to hide in being Muslim in America. In fact, it has become the source of her greatest personal empowerment.

TW: sexual abuse, bulimia

Sexually abused by a rabbi in her Lubavitch (a branch of Hasidism) community, abandoned by her parents, and turning to Bulimia to try and make herself disappear, Deena Chanowitz has stared down mountains of suffering to go from suicidal to getting into med school.

TW: anorexia, mental health

We traveled to London's Southbank Centre to conduct What's Underneath interviews as an open call in a public setting. We weren't sure what to expect, but eager participants stepped up to share their stories as an audience accumulated. Watch six women strip down and open up in our first ever Open Call.

TW: rape, domestic abuse, racism

"For so long, I've been told to shut up about my weaknesses and insecurities," says Sara Elise. But in our new What's Underneath episode, the soft-spoken personal chef steps out of her amazing drawstring drop-crotch trousers and unveils her strength by opening up about her struggles with her multiracial identity, an abusive boyfriend, and being raped by someone she knew.

TW: transmisogyny

Alok Vaid-Menon is a trans-feminine Indian-American poet and one half of the performance art duo Dark Matter. Through sharing Alok's post with your friends and loved ones, spread the message that gender is not about what body parts you do or don't have, it's about who you are at your core.

To find out more visit: or search them on Youtube. 

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