Since its inception in 2009, mother-daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum have grown StyleLikeU into an online movement that champions authenticity, self-love and acceptance. Beginning with their ‘The Early Years’ video series exploring personal fashion and outer-expression, the StyleLikeU platform has since become the beacon of self-love and positivity.
Their most notable project has been the ever-viral ‘What’s Underneath’ YouTube series. ‘What’s Underneath’ lives up to its name, diving into a collection of beautifully intimate and laid-back interviews—asking its participants to strip down both emotionally and physically. Having their interviewees remove an item of clothing one piece at a time, Goodkind and Mandelbaum curate an environment where meaningful conversations take place and journeys of self-discovery are nurtured.
Having recently sat down with the team, SCREENSHOT were able to learn more about the duo’s creative process, experience creating the ‘What’s Underneath’ series as well as their perspectives on changing attitudes within the mainstream media regarding body positivity, diversity and inclusion. Lucky enough to video call them, it was immediately clear, through conversation, that these women have unequivocal aspirations of what kind of future they’re committed to help build.
Despite StyleLikeU developing and rapidly growing over the past decade, Goodkind and Mandelbaum still strongly feel that their vision is inherently the same as when they started. When chatting about the ‘What’s Underneath’ series in particular, Mandelbaum expressed that “the core mission and purpose of it is the same, we’ve just expanded the utilisation of it as a vehicle to explore a lot of different social and cultural issues.”
“It’s always been about this core idea that true beauty and style is being comfortable in your skin.”
Another core theme you’ll find throughout the ‘What’s Underneath’ videos is validation. Its format forges a space for both self-validation from the interviewee as well as validation from Goodkind and Mandelbaum—ensuring that whoever is sitting on their stool receives complete sensitivity and encouragement. When touching on this, Goodkind explained how introducing a personal dialogue, with whoever they’re interviewing beforehand, ensures the “storyteller feels understood” and allows an organic conversation to grow.
“We just feel that we both share this really deep passion to show the beauty in people and for people to see the beauty in themselves. We have a very deep passion about that and people can feel that… there’s a trust,” Goodkind further elucidated. A safe space that participants have only gone on to celebrate.
Marie Southard Ospina took part in a ‘What’s Underneath’ video back in 2015. When reflecting on her experience she wrote for Bustle: “Elisa and Lily’s ‘What’s Underneath’ videos strip people down to the bare minimum—no makeup; very little clothing—to desensitise us. To present us with bodies as they are, in all their imperfect perfection; to normalise the visibility of varying forms of beauty.” Trust, mutual appreciation and understanding are inherently at the core of this project.
The ‘What’s Underneath: Couples’ series—a recent extension of the original—has gone on to dive even deeper and explore the different dynamics that exist in our relationships. When discussing the differences between the individual interviews and the couple interviews, Mandelbaum shared how the initial mission was to challenge societal ideas of beauty and fashion while the couple’s series focuses on a different objective. For her, the direction for ‘What’s Underneath: Couples’ has been to “expand people’s consciousness around what couples can look like outside of the binary and the heteronormative white cis relationships that we’re exposed to. To help people realise that everyone is worthy of a healthy partnership that comes from self-love and that can look a lot of different ways.”
In her perspective, Goodkind shared that the most important aspect of the couple’s series was that “the goal is not for people to feel that they need to be in a ‘love’ relationship, but more by just exploring what these relationships are, to then be able to see themselves more clearly with whatever their desires might be.”
The couples’ series has shone light on a number of unique and different stories. Topics like polyamory, ableism, homophobia, queerness and sexual freedom have all been explored. In one episode, famous drag queen Latrice Royale (Timothy Wilcots) and his husband Christopher Hamblin chat about their experience challenging, what StyleLikeU write, “gay standards of twinning and ‘no fats, no femmes’ through Christopher’s unabashed embrace of Timothy in and out of drag,” as well as both of their journeys to self-acceptance.
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With so many of these stories being so distinctly unique, undoubtedly telling such extraordinary perspectives, there’s a definite intrigue over how Goodkind and Mandelbaum conduct the selection process. According to Goodkind, “there is definitely first and foremost a person, a type of a person… that was how it all started at the very beginning, around style and their outer expression.” However, Mandelbaum adds how those who get involved in this process shine due to their ability to be “radically honest and vulnerable… That takes a really special person.”
“That’s why they’re so empowering, there’s this comfort and bravery and unapologetic-ness to them that makes people feel so inspired,” she continued. They truly have an “immovable sense of self that isn’t affected by the outside status quo.”
When considering the mainstream media’s evolving attitudes to divergent standards and representations of beauty, Goodkind and Mandelbaum had this to say: “There’s definitely been a positive change, things have changed enormously in a decade but also we have a long way to go and we’ve barely scratched the surface […] As far as mainstream we’ve got a long way to go. Even watching the Grammys, most of the female singers are still very skinny, have a certain male gaze appearance—it’s still a little token.”
Unfortunately, it seems the body positivity movement is now ‘commercialised’ within the dominant media. Rather than genuine, authentic representation, we are all-too-often saturated with performative acts of body positivity instead of real impactful change. It is the media’s reaction to change that is still the greatest barrier to complete inclusion. Goodkind’s final comment really solidifies this:
“The fortress has started to crumble, but the crumbling of that fortress is going to take a lot of time.”
With their annual ‘What’s Underneath: Pride’ series just around the corner, check out their YouTube channel and hear some of the stories from all those involved in this necessary and significant movement. These two women may have been creating important content for over a decade, but they’ve only just got started.
Adult film actor Josh Moore celebrates his sexuality and identity both on-screen and in real life. As an OnlyFans creator, he stands up for sex workers’ rights while challenging stigmas surrounding HIV. Moore has perfected the art of ignoring haters and carried on being his fabulous self by always speaking up.
That’s why for Anti-Bullying Week 2020, Moore sat down with Screen Shot to speak about online bullying and the impact it has on people’s well-being in support of the Not Just A Comment campaign. He shared more about the ways he deals with online hate so that you too can learn from his experiences.
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It’s something that has always been interesting to me, and now it’s a real passion of mine—sex for me is a beautiful and powerful and art, and I love being able to create something that pleasures others.
Oh absolutely. You have to change and adapt pretty quickly. As soon as you reach any sort of social media fame, it comes with a price, and that, unfortunately, is trolling. My self-confidence took a battering for many years at the start of my career due to this.
I always try my best to raise awareness on a lot of different matters, since starting in the industry 5 years ago, the stigma surrounding HIV and sex without a condom has changed massively, and we in the industry have the power to influence that through porn and our social media. I think that’s very powerful as there is zero sex education out there for young gay men!
I also think that we, as sex workers, are becoming more visible and more mainstream, thanks to the ‘Cock Destroyers’ Sophie Anderson and Rebecca More, the playful female porn star duo that has captured the nation’s hearts and really shows the humanity and joy behind sex workers and their career. But we still have a long way to go when it comes to our rights and the stigma we face, so I’ll always be there on the front line battling that!
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I would tell them that being your authentic self brings so much joy. I’m not saying it will be an easy road to travel—sometimes to get there, it’s hard being LGBTQIA+, coming out especially or being confused. But please explore yourself, find what works for you, and be proud and open to do so! Because until you can be yourself and show the world who you really are, I don’t think you can be truly happy.
I try to be as mindful as I can be, but as a human, we all make mistakes. I myself have made mistakes and said mean things online when I’m frustrated or angry, but remember before you post anything that it could potentially hurt someone. Leave it for 10 minutes, calm yourself down, think about the human on the other side of that tweet or comment, and then come back to it and rethink posting.
I have a mantra when I’m feeling a little shaky or not so confident, I quietly say to my self ‘I am beautiful, I am powerful, I am strong and I’ve fucking got this’. It always helps me, and please try it, it can help you too! You need to tell yourself these things, even if you don’t feel them, make yourself believe! Fake it ‘till you make it!
I’ve set boundaries in my own mental space, if I receive a negative comment, I will totally ignore that person—I won’t even block or delete, they will just not be acknowledged. Because what they are looking for when they troll you is a reaction and blocking is a reaction, it makes them feel like they have won. So a total lack of acknowledgement is always my go-to move.
Stop the censorship of LGBTQ+ people on Instagram. The platform is full of female celebrities showing almost everything, but we as sex workers and gay people are reported, banned, and blocked every day for the same pictures.
Go out there on social media and be an anti-bully. Go spread love, joy, and positivity! Tell people how beautiful they are, tell them they are doing great, that their hair looks amazing and their outfit looks so cool—you never know, your comment may make someone’s day, or even save a life. Always remember that your comments hold power.
For Anti-Bullying Week 2020, Screen Shot is supporting the anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label in its mission to tackle online abuse. Our Not Just a Comment campaign features 6 inspiring change-makers (including Moore) who know first hand what it’s like to receive hate online. They shared with us the worst comments they’ve ever received as they come together to highlight the impact that words can have on each and every one of us.
Share with anyone who you think might be suffering from bullying and donate if you can to help support the incredible work Ditch The Label is doing. Share the hurtful comments you’ve received online using #NotJustAComment and raise awareness about the impact of online bullying.