We asked photographer and model Syrie Moskowitz to be a part of the What's Underneath Project because, although she is coming to terms with life not being a fairytale, she couldn’t be more enchanting to us, in Little Bo Peep floral dress, a milky-white floor-length coat, a lacy headpiece, and a red bow. Syrie grew up in the mixed bubble of a secluded, Evangelical fantasy surrounded by "crazy antiques." But her search for the truth was not crushed by her religion's body-shaming, as she started, and continues to, shoot self portraits, many in the nude, at 12 years old, and, today, she is one of Ellen Von Unwerth's selected nymphs for her seductive fashion shoots. Ridiculed in public school for her hairy legs and weird outfits, Syrie is no stranger to being an outlier. Recently, on the set with eight prototypical skinny models, she overheard one of them crying (literally crying), “Why does the short fat girl get to be the lead?” “I was always an outsider,” Syrie reveals, which, to us, translates as, “I was always beautiful.”
"I come from an evangelical Christian upbringing, where body image is warped, particularly as a woman.... I was 16 the first time I had an exhibition of my photographs in Denver. I had long blond hair and I’d never been on an airplane. I thought dressing beautifully was to wear a high-neck, white, 100-year-old Victorian dress full-to-the-floor with no makeup and hair down low. I show up and everybody else is sexy in black and heels. I was on another planet. I looked like a ghost.... I’ve always felt like an outsider, but I somehow got swept into the fashion world even though I’m not a fashion model. I’m 5’3 and I lie and say I’m 5’6. For one big fashion shoot, I was a naked ghost basically running around. It was me and eight models, but I was the lead. I heard this redhead girl in tears with the hairstylist, saying, ‘Why does the short fat girl get the lead?’ I was fat and short for her standards, and she couldn’t comprehend it.... I don’t like my thighs in jeans. I always felt more vulgar in jeans than if I had just been walking around naked. I realized that you just have to dress differently depending on how you're shaped.... I always lived in a fairy tale. My saddest moment has been coming to terms with love vs. reality of love. You meet somebody and fall in love, but you’re not actually in love with them, you’re in love with what you two create energetically together, as opposed to who that person is. You have to fall in love twice with somebody to really love them for a long period.... I was always lonely. I didn’t really have friends. My sister went through a bad divorce, so we had to leave the church. I was thrown into public school, which, with my hairy legs and my weird outfits, was like being thrown to the wolves. I did think that everybody loved everybody else and everybody loved Jesus, but nobody loves everybody else.... I had my body in youth, I have it now, and I'll have it as I age. I don’t have any of this clothing, it's just stuff."
Your Style is Story, & Syrie's is in the above episode of the What's Underneath Project.
Visit Syrie's website
Follow her on Instagram: @syriem
Syrie's video was edited by Andrea Cruz
The What's Underneath Project is produced by Elisa, Lily, & Mona