Women Strip Down To Prove That Beauty Isn't About Fashion But 'What's Underneath'

A mom and daughter pair are fundraising for a film to drive that point home.

In 2009, Elisa Goodkind & Lily Mandelbaum were just like any other mother daughter duo. Elisa worked as a fashion stylist and Mandelbaum was a teenager on the brink of adulthood, learning more about herself.

Though from different generations, the two realized they faced a similar problem: the way the fashion industry perpetuates beauty, or more specifically, one version of beauty. Now, they've banded together to try to change that.


Their realization began to brew when a 19-year-old Lily would excessively diet trying to live up to what models looked like and Elisa struggled with how the fashion world changed from accepting different kinds of women to just one. 

"I realized the same magazine covers I was styling was destroying my daughter's self-esteem," Elisa says in a video

So Elisa ditched her stylist job and grabbed a camera with her daughter to start what is now the "I Am What's Underneath" project. The campaign films people of all shapes, sizes and races, who sit down and talk about their biggest insecurities while taking off pieces of clothing — the idea being that who you are isn't what you wear, but what's underneath.

"My mom has always said to me, 'you can be naked and have style.' What she meant by this is that style is not about material things and consumption, it's about the spirit, essence and confidence of an individual," Lily told A+ in an email interview.

Shortly after, the two co-founded StyleLikeU, a fashion styling site for everyone, model or not, and last week, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make a documentary about the "What's Underneath" campaign. Their goal? A "global movement for self-acceptance."

"With each layer of clothing removed, new truths came to the surface," Lily and Elisa write on their fundraising page:

"Out poured story after story about poor self-image: eating disorders, pill addictions, depression, as well as gender, age and racial identity crises. What we began to realize was that each person, like us, had felt that they were lacking something that kept them from feeling beautiful and whole."

The team has raised over $63,000 of their $100,000 goal to fund the film. With those donations, they hope to spread the word across the nation and bring as many stories to the StyleLikeU platform as possible.

 "We hope that people begin to realize their own unique beauty, find comfort in their skin and accept their true selves," Lily told A+. 

Amen to that.


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