Beauty is a State of Being


When we are young, most of us are taught by society that beauty is superficial. Beauty is the way you look after hours spent waxing, styling, and refining every feature that doesn’t conform to conventional standards. Beauty is flawless skin, shiny hair, high cheekbones, and tiny waists. We are taught that beauty is what you see on the outside when in reality beauty is a state of being – your being.

Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum are two empowered women set out to defy societal norms and spread self-acceptance through fashion. In Nov. 2014, the mother daughter duo launched a kick-starter campaign to support the production of a documentary film, which would capture their viral video series, The What’s Underneath Project. It was a huge success. Within 18 days of the launch, Goodkind and Mandelbaum raised over $100,000.

As a teenager, Mandelbaum struggled to love her body in a culture where none of the women in the media looked like her. Her youth was a constant struggle of dying to fit into the cookie-cutter societal norms. On her website, she describes her adolescence as “tortured”. She associates eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and a constant feeling of inferiority with her formative years.

Motivated by her struggle with body image, she and her mother, Goodkind, decided to take initiative and create an alternative to a disempowering system they were forced to be a part of – and hence, the birth of StylelikeU.

As a part of their project, Mandelbaum and Goodkind, pick out random people from the streets of New York; anyone who looks unconventional at first glance. If the person agrees to be part of the movement, they come to the studio and record, gradually revealing their life stories and deepest, most personal struggles. While telling their stories, they remove an article of clothing throughout the video until they are left in just their underwear. This drives at the point that true style and beauty is self-acceptance and radiance is found in the most basic, stripped core of an individual.

These documentary-style videos are raw, honest and inspiring. Diverse stories of unapologetic, irrepressible human beings are featured in this series and the perspective each one brings is unparalleled in originality. Ranging from wise, ageless spirits, to fearless rape survivors, to androgynous models, the people featured in the project are relatable in their own way to so many different personalities from so many different walks of life.

I would encourage anyone to check out the campaign and support it in any way possible. If you’re still unsure about their mission or if you’re interested to see the content produced, I would recommend watching the following videos first:

Confronting Grief with Nothing But Nature

Society Is Kaput & Other Truths From an Ageless Spirit

The message of defining your own standard of beauty and expressing your inner spirit is beautifully executed in every single interview. Their full documentary, capturing the viral video series is expected to release in the spring of 2017

From the time we are born, we are inundated with overwhelming and frankly, unattainable notions of beauty and fashion. We are inadvertently told to be obsessed with youth, meaningless constructs, and perfection. We live our lives paralyzed by the desire to fit in. The voice of defiance provided by Mandelaum and Goodkind is an effective ways of reaching out to and heartening a lot of people stuck in a vicious cycle of self-hatred. By redefining conventional beauty by featuring individuals who are so true to themselves, StylelikeU inspires the same sense of freedom and confidence in their viewers and supporters.

Commentaries are the expressed opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of The Fourcast staff, its adviser or any member of the Hockaday community.

– Neha Dronamraju – Staff Writer –