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.
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.
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!
Daphne Gabriel, actress living in LA
Alex Klassen, model from Calgary, Alberta Canada
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:
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.
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)