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A feature-length documentary that strips us down to open us up, empowering people worldwide to accept and express their true selves.
A feature-length documentary that strips us down to open us up, empowering people worldwide to accept and express their true selves.
A feature-length documentary that strips us down to open us up, empowering people worldwide to accept and express their true selves.
1,519 backers pledged $135,655 to help bring this project to life.

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I Am What’s Underneath - True Style Is Self Acceptance

$135,655

1,519

Hi, we are Elisa and Lily, a mother and daughter team, bound together by our commitment to spread self-acceptance through style.

  • In 2009, I *Lily* was a curvy 19 year old, struggling to love my body in a culture without any images of women who looked like me. I was convinced that in order to have style, I needed to starve myself, slip into a pair of skinny jeans, and tote around the latest ‘it’ bag. This empty ideal of beauty tortured my adolescence.

    At the same time, I *Elisa* was working as a fashion stylist. After years in the business, I felt stuck. The industry, which was once devoted to artistry, had become about selling status, conformity, and one, exclusive ideal of beauty. I eventually realized that those same photoshopped magazine covers that I was styling were also harming my daughter's self-esteem. 

    Instead of being victims of a system that was disempowering us, we chose to create an alternative. And so we started StyleLikeU

    Elevating Authentic Voices

    In 2009, we picked up a home video camera and began to document real people with original personal style. We interviewed people of all ages, body types, races and genders, all of whom were being submerged in a sea of cookie-cutter beauty norms. 

    After producing thousands of raw, honest docu-style videos, we’ve harnessed a new wave of fashion where style is not about celebrity status, trends or airbrushed photographs. Style is self-expression, self-acceptance, and at the core of every person’s identity.

    To further this exploration, we began asking people to take their clothes off. Not to sensationalize their bodies, but rather to prove that….

    With each layer of clothing removed, new truths came to the surface.

    What began to come out of our interviews was powerful vulnerability and honest personal storytelling that revealed the depths of marketing's effects on our human experience. 

    Out poured story after story about poor self-image: eating disorders, pill addictions, depression, as well as gender, age and racial identity crises. In addition, many had faced misguided assumptions towards them based on looks -- bullying and marginalization for everything from what they were wearing to the texture of their natural hair. How absurd is that?

    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.

    Jacky O'Shaughnessy, please click to view her What's Underneath episode
    Jacky O'Shaughnessy, please click to view her What's Underneath episode

    Some of our subjects had already liberated themselves from the scars of this cultural conditioning, while others were in the process. But what was so moving to us was to see What's Underneath become a stage for catharsis -- a stepping stone towards self-acceptance. 

    And true self-acceptance is not about looking like some made-up ideal of perfection. It is about the bravery to be in this world, exactly as you are, and not in the image of others. That is what gives a person style. That is what makes a person beautiful.

    Cipriana Quann, please click to view her What's Underneath episode
    Cipriana Quann, please click to view her What's Underneath episode
    Shaun Ross, please click here for his What's Underneath episode
    Shaun Ross, please click here for his What's Underneath episode
    Jillian Mercado, please click to view her What's Underneath episode
    Jillian Mercado, please click to view her What's Underneath episode
                          

    The response to our project was INCREDIBLE. Our videos went viral, we got worldwide press, and fan-mail flooded in from people around the world who wanted to help and participate. With such a groundswell of support, the time to change the conversation on beauty is now –- but we need your help to make it possible.

    Creating our first feature film

    The documentary itself will take you with us on our journey across the world, sharing with you the powerful stories we uncover along the way, and showing you the beginnings of What's Underneath expanding into a permanent and widespread force for self-acceptance. The film will also include interviews with experts who can provide context to self-image and identity issues of today, such as body image, age, race and sexuality.

    During our travels, we will create satellite ambassador programs in which The What's Underneath format will be introduced to individuals and communities who can facilitate the experience themselves. We want to give you the tools to take this movement to places we never could have reached on our own.

    While traveling to at least 5 cities around the world, we will also film at least 30 What's Underneath episodes for you to view at Stylelikeu.com

    The cities will be selected based on a combination of:

    1) Backers - Where we have received the most backers (this could be your town, so make sure you spread the word to all your friends)!

    2) Submissions - Where we have received the most submissions to date.

    3) Diversity - We want to represent a wide range of cultural perspectives in the film, so we'll make our selections based on this as well.

    Our goal is to begin traveling and shooting the film early in 2015, edit the film late next year, and release in the spring of 2016. 

    With a feature-length What’s Underneath documentary, we can put our movement directly in the hands of you, our community. The process of making this film will spark powerful conversations, elevates hundreds of new stories, and empower thousands of people to celebrate their own self-worth. Thus, your contribution is more than just a donation to create compelling content -- it’s an investment in a radical new vision for how we view ourselves and others. You will be a crucial building block in creating a movement that will allow people around the world to realize their own unique beauty and feel safe expressing their truest selves.

    You can support I Am What’s Underneath in three critical ways:

    1. Make a financial commitment to this movement. No donation is too big or small.

     2. Spread the word! Please email your friends, coworkers, family members, and basically everyone you know! Post it to Facebook! Tweet it! You get the idea! Don't forget the bloggers, journalists and other movements and businesses that share our values! Your example has the power inspire others to get onboard.

    3. Share your story and your contribution by taking a photo of yourself holding a sign using #iamwhatsunderneath. We’ll be featuring your examples throughout the campaign on StyleLikeU’s social media channels.

    With tens of thousands of supporters, StyleLikeU is greater than the sum of its parts. Together, we have the power to spark an international conversation that will give millions permission to be what we all so desperately need to be: who we are. Thank you for joining on us on that journey. 

    The money we raise is directly proportional to the number of stories we can share and the impact we can have. We are starting with just 5 cities, but, ultimately, our goal is to travel the world and to turn StyleLikeU into a platform that can be a home for all of your stories. This Kickstarter goal is the starting point for manifesting the full vision of this movement.

    We are so grateful for your support!

    Here are some words from our fans on how StyleLikeU and the What's Underneath series has changed their lives -- ENJOY!

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    Daphne Gabriel, actress living in LA 

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    Alex Klassen, model from Calgary, Alberta Canada 

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    Even more testimonials!    



    We are ecstatic to offer an array of rewards that reflect the unique, endlessly expressive world that is StyleLikeU. Not only will we be giving you exclusive access to behind-the-scenes footage from our documentary and shoots, but we have also some special collaborations to share. 

    Our years of documenting extraordinary people with real style has given us a diverse community of trailblazing artists, photographers, poets, designers and more. We’ve asked some of the most passionate supporters in our community to collaborate on distinct rewards that reflect the spirit of StyleLikeU and The What’s Underneath Project. Check out examples below:


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    In addition to What’s Underneath, StyleLikeU is at work on a number of other projects. We are putting together a second book (our first one was published by PowerHouse Books in 2011 and is offered in the rewards section) that revolves around the themes of the What’s Underneath Project and StyleLikeU’s other features. One of our other features, Second Skin, is being developed for television. We are also growing our casting business, providing "real" people talent for major brands such as Spotify, Google, Nike and more. Also, after you back this project, head over to StyleLikeU to watch some of our other features like Dailies and Closets

    We are guided by a vision of a world where:

    • People don’t judge each other based on differences.
    • People accept the natural skin they’re in regardless of age, gender identity, sexuality, race, body type or physical condition
    • The fashion industry is inclusive of diverse models and voices.
    • People don’t dress to conform, they dress to express their authentic selves.
    • There is no more photoshopping.
    • Magazines do not perpetually point out people’s "deficiencies".
    • Future generations of girls, boys and everyone in between feel free to be themselves, without fearing judgement
    • Our self-image is no longer be controlled by corporations and the products they want us to buy. 

    Follow us on: StyleLikeU//Facebook//Instagram//Youtube//Twitter

Risks and challenges

Documentary - We are filmmakers, however we have not yet produced a feature-length film before. We are sticking with our original team (which includes a full-time videographer/editor and casting director), as we have the commitment and the understanding of makes What's Underneath so unique. We know that we can express our vision in an expanded form.

Distribution - This is not included in the budget. We are confident that we will inspire interest in the right people to partner with us. If for any reason we are forced to go at this alone, then that's exactly what we will do. In terms of partnering with a distributor, there will be no compromise of our integrity or values, we will choose to only work with "good" people with the right intentions, the right focus and as much positive energy as we do!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About $5

    THANK YOU - Every little bit helps. You are now part of the StyleLikeU family. You will get regular updates on our projects and a huge hug if our paths ever cross in real life!

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    BRACELET - You will get an “I Am What’s Underneath” bracelet. When you wear it, everyone who sees you will know that you're an important part of this movement towards a more accepting world.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // TOTE BAG - You will get an "I Am What's Underneath" tote bag specially designed for us by Coco and Breezy, the talented designer twins who are favs of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and more. They've been part of the StyleLikeU community since the beginning and we've loved watching them grow.

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    ARTIST COLLABORATION // SELF-ACCEPTANCE POEM - You’ll get a printed poem by StyleLikeU’s resident poet, Jacqueline Suskin. The poem will be inspired by "Self-Acceptance" and reflect the spirit of What's Underneath. These are prophetic words you'll want to keep with you for the rest of your life.

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    Pledge US$ 35 or more About $35

    DIGITAL DOWNLOAD - You’ll get a digital download of the “I Am What's Underneath" documentary. This link will include exclusive behind-the-scene outtakes, extended footage from our journey making the film, and more that will only be available in this special version.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // BEADED JEWELRY - You will get a beaded wraparound piece by Argentinian designer Carolina K. It can be worn as a necklace, bracelet or headband. Proudly working with underdeveloped communities in Latin America, Carolina K stays true to her mission of supporting factories and artisans who work within the guidelines of Fair Trade regulations!

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    LOVE ADORNED SCARF - You'll get a playfully sophisticated polkadot scarf from Love Adorned, our go-to store in NYC for accessories, jewelry, and stuff for our home.

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    THE STYLELIKEU BOOK - You’ll get your own copy of our beautiful first book, inscribed with a personal thank-you note from us.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // NECKLACE - You'll get a 100% authentic tribal necklace pouch designed by American Indian artist Noel Bennetto

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // BEADED NECKLACE - You’ll get a necklace designed by Arpana Rayamajhi. Ever since we met Arpana last Fall, we’ve been obsessed with the hand-made, tribal-inspired beaded jewelry she makes. We both wear her pieces all the time and we think you'll love them too!

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // CANDLE - You will get a handmade, cedar-scented, organic soy wax candle made by NYC designer Camila Meng Engstrom.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // LEATHER BRACELET - You’ll receive a leather bracelet handmade by the trailblazing Austin-by-way-of-Los Angeles farmer, Leslie Crow. Her eco-conscious brand, Heyoka Leather, is as ruggedly cool as she is.

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    Pledge US$ 65 or more About $65

    MEET YOUR WHAT'S UNDERNEATH ROLE MODEL - Were you inspired by a particular episode of What's Underneath? Get a private one-hour Skype session to bond with one of your favorite What's Underneath participants.

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    Pledge US$ 75 or more About $75

    BEHIND THE SCENES ACCESS - In real time, you can log on to our website and get exclusive behind-the-scenes access to a live stream of a What’s Underneath shoot in progress.

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    ARTIST COLLABORATION // SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH - You’ll get one of five original photographs by Magdalena Wosinski. Her photographs of nature and the human body are absolutely breathtaking. Ever since we interviewed her in 2011, we’ve known that her work is really something special. You'll be proud to own one. Photos are 11"14"

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    ARTIST COLLABORATION // SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH - You’ll get one of five original photographs signed by Bee Walker. We’ve been in love with Bee ever since we interviewed her and her husband, Rog, last summer. Her photography reflects her passion for personal idiosyncrasies and cultural expression.

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    Pledge US$ 95 or more About $95

    PARTY TICKETS - You will get a ticket to an epic StyleLikeU dance bash in New York City. There will be lots of of mingling with the SLU family, including a meet-and-greet with us (Elisa & Lily), performances by musicians in StyleLikeU's community and music all night by DJ Louie XIV!

    The party will be in New York City. No flights or accommodations are included.

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    ARTIST COLLABORATION // PERSONAL POEM - You’ll get a personal poem by StyleLikeU’s resident poet, Jacqueline Suskin. Jacqueline will write a custom poem for you and only you based on a personal subject of your choice!

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    WHATS UNDERNEATH MOVEMENT PACKAGE: You can get all of the What's Underneath goods in one reward! This will include a movement bracelet, a tote bag designed specially by Coco & Breezy and a copy of the StyleLikeU book, signed by Elisa & Lily.

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    PRIVATE SKYPE WITH ELISA + LILY - You’ll get an hour Skype session with us, where we share anecdotes from our journey in creating SLU and What's Underneath. We'll also give personal advice about style, beauty, self-acceptance and more.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About $200

    MATCHMAKING SESSION - You’ll get an hour-long matchmaking session with in-demand matchmaker Amy Van Doran. She is basically a real-life Cupid and she might just lead you to your one true love. Although she's based in NYC, Amy can also meet you via Skype.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // JEWELRY - You’ll get a crystal talisman designed by twin artists Dynasty & Soul. These pieces are as enchanting as the girls themselves and they will surely bring magic into your wardrobe.

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    PRIVATE COOKING LESSON - You will get a an hour-long cooking lesson with Egyptian chef and founder of Sunday Supper, Laila Gohar. Laila has catered parties for LVMH, Refinery29, Urban Outfitters and more. She has a unique flair for cooking that combines her love for the Middle Eastern cuisine, health consciousness and color. Reward is limited to NYC only. Ingredients not included.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // LEATHER POUCH - You’ll get a handmade leather medicine pouch from designer Mariah Makalapua which is not only a beautiful and convenient piece to add to your closet, but a constant reminder that you are your own best medicine.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // AWAKE RING - You will get a handmade ring by Williamsburg jewelry designer, Britt Bolton. This will be a fierce statement piece that will spark conversations, and more importantly, constantly remind you to stay conscious and “awake.”

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // PENDANT NECKLACE - You will get a primitive meets post-modern bronze pendant necklace on black silk chording by Malu Byrne. Malu’s designs reflect her understated and effortless personal style.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // HAND-DYED DRESS - You will get one of Maria Calderon’s drapey, hand-dyed indigo dresses. These are one-size-fits-all, making them perfect for any body-type. They can be layered or worn on their own!

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // RING STACK- You will get stack of three artisanal rings from the sculptural designer, Alice Waese. Her hand built metal jewelry feels like you are wearing something that is a part of your body.

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    DJ LESSON. You'll get a 1 hour DJ lesson from New York DJ Louie XIV. Louie is a regular at many of New York's hottest clubs, as well as a favorite at parties for Vanity Fair Magazine, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and More. He also DJs all of our parties and is Lily's bro and Elisa's son! You'll learn the basics of mixing and putting together your ideal DJ set. DJ Louie XIV is based in NYC, no travel or accommodation included.

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    PERSONAL STYLING SESSION WITH GOLDIE RUSH - You'll get a personal styling session with the sensual, free-spirit goddess and professional stylist Goldie Rush. The session includes an image consultation and closet edit. The session can be in person or through Skype.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // HAND-PAINTED DRESS - You'll get a hand-painted dress from Leana Zuniga's clothing line, Electric Feathers. We love Leana's designs because of their elegance and textured simplicity. The dress is one-size-fits-all, making it perfect for any body type.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // HAND-PAINTED JUMPSUIT - You'll get a hand-painted jumpsuit from Leana Zuniga's clothing line, Electric Feathers. We love Leana's designs because of their elegance and textured simplicity. The jumpsuit is one-size-fits-all, making it perfect for any body type.

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    DESIGNER COLLABORATION // GEM FIT PEARL RING - In the spirit of What's Underneath, you’ll get a ring with hidden pearls by Jules Kim. Her line, Bijules, is designed to become a part of your body -- kind of like a second skin. Rihanna and Beyonce are constantly seen in Jules’ rings, by the way ;).

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About $1,000

    SPECIAL THANKS - Credit in the documentary film. You will share the screen with up to twenty other backers on a special end credit that will be on both the theatrical and video release of the film. You will be part of our documentary forever!

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    STYLING SESSION WITH ELISA - You’ll get a personal one-on-one style consultation with Elisa. Afterwards, you’ll be absolutely sure of how you can use clothes to express your own true identity. Elisa is based in New York City, no travel or accommodation included.

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    ARTIST COLLABORATION // PAINTING - You’ll get a textured and expressive large-scale painting by bourgeoning artist Suzannah Wainhouse. Warning: MoMA will probably want to buy this off you in the not-too-distant future.

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    Pledge US$ 1,500 or more About $1,500

    ARTIST COLLABORATION // PAINTING - You will get an emotion-filled painting, brimming with color, from on-the-rise painter, Keating Sherwin. Her artwork mirrors her passion for the beauty of the human body and the inner world of her subjects.

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    Pledge $2,200 or more About $2,200

    ARTIST COLLABORATION // PAINTING - You’ll get a painting from Alice Lancaster. We met Alice earlier this year, and her paintings blow beauty norms wide open by portraying confident, dynamic women and their beautiful bodies of all shapes and sizes. This painting is 30" x 24"

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About $2,500

    DIGITAL RECOGNITION: You will get your personal name or company name/logo on the StyleLikeU website supporter's page as well as a shout on StyleLikeU’s social media platforms. This will be front and center recognition on our digital platforms, acknowledging your role and support in bringing this movement to fruition!

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About $5,000

    WHAT'S UNDERNEATH WORKSHOP - We will lead a What's Underneath workshop and roundtable in your workplace, residence or school. We will facilitate a open, judgement-free conversation around self-acceptance and style. We will help your community dive into the cathartic experience that is What's Underneath.

    Flight and accommodation not included.

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    Pledge US$ 6,000 or more About $6,000

    EPISODE SPONSORSHIP - You’ll get to sponsor a What’s Underneath Episode. You or your brand's name will appear at the beginning and end of a What’s Underneath episode, as well as with the related promotion of the episode.

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    Pledge US$ 8,000 or more About $8,000

    COHOST AN EVENT - Let's join forces and co-host an event at your workplace/residence. We will screen our film, share behind-the-scenes moments from our journey and speak to your crowd about style, self-acceptance, and the changing landscape of the fashion and beauty industries. We can't wait to meet you. Flight + Accommodation not included.

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    Pledge US$ 10,000 About $10,000

    VISIONARY SPONSOR - You’ll receive a “Presented By" credit at the beginning of the I Am What’s Underneath film, four tickets to the film premiere, and your name or logo on promotional materials related to the premiere event. Although it's an honorary tribute, it's a crucial one; you've brought this documentary to life. You will walk the red carpet and have your photo taken with the team. Flights and accommodation not included.

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    Reward no longer available 2 backers
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    Pledge US$ 10,000 About $10,000

    RECOGNITION PACKAGE- You will get your personal name or company name/logo on the StyleLikeU website supporter's page, a special thanks at the end of the film, an episode sponsorship online and two tickets to the premier of the film. This is an all-encompassing package to show our community how you support the What’s Underneath movement as a whole. Flights and accommodations not included.

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Funding period

- (32 days)