A Nonconformist’s Journey to Self-Discovery Through Religion and Rebellion
"When I leave my house and my parents hate what I'm wearing, and I'm half-naked and rebellious, I feel like I'm going to war. That's when I feel the most beautiful."

We traveled to London’s Southbank Centre to conduct What’s Underneath interviews as an open call in a public setting. We weren’t sure what to expect, but eager participants stepped up to share their stories as an audience accumulated. Watch six women strip down and open up in our first ever Open Call.

On our first day shooting, Sia and her younger sister hung out all day in full on support of our subjects, until she had her chance to participate on day two. When it was finally her turn, we were floored by Sia’s uncompromising vulnerability and willingness to explore who she is, within and outside of Islam. A second generation Afghan, Sia opens up in her video about the complex identity issues that come with growing up in a Muslim family in Britain. From wearing a full veil of her own choice for three years to unleashing her fully realized self in short shorts and miniskirts, Sia is a rare fearless spirit who is only emboldened by the intense judgment of others. As she puts it, “I feel most beautiful when I leave the house and my parents hate what I’m wearing. I feel like I’m going to war.” And, despite her concerns about her family seeing her undress in this video, Sia made clear to us the importance of letting the interview be raw, in order to help other women who struggle with similar problems. A monumental force for self-acceptance, she refuses to limit or censor herself anymore.

Video produced by Elisa, Lily, and Mona
Edited by Kirsten Johnson

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