top of page

nails, skirts, heels


I’ve been following the project StyleLikeU for many years now – more or less from around 2010. I bumped into their unique videos series What’s Underneath on YouTube, which consisted mainly of interviews where the person interviewed, after each question, takes off each and every layer of clothing, until he or she remains in their underwear. The style of these videos really struck with me, and seeing people letting themselves be that vulnerable in front of a camera and, potentially, the whole internet world, while sharing very intimate details of their life and story – that was extremely empowering. So, if you have never seen any of their videos, I suggest you really do binge-watch them all. Specifically, I highly recommend the one featuring model Adwoa Aboah, the one featuring artist Diane Goldie and the amazing one featuring the model and Sudanese refugee Mari Malek.

私がStyleLikeUをフォローしてから何年も経ってる、2010年くらいからかな。その中でも彼らのYouTubeで、「What's Underneath」というシリーズがある。そのシリーズでは、インタビューをしている人への質問一つ一つ聞くたびに、インタビューされている人は下着になるまで1枚ずつ着ているものを脱いでいくというもの。こんなスタイルの動画は見たことがなくて驚いたし、インタビューされている人たちはカメラの前で、というかインターネットの世界を前に、自分の人生やストーリーを話しながら、こんなにも無防備になれちゃうのか。と、ものすごくエンパワーリングだと感じた。だから、もしこのシリーズを観たことがなければ、ぜひ全部観ることをオススメする!私のお気に入りは、モデルのAdwoa AboahアーティスオのDiane Goldieスーダン人の難民でモデルとなったMari Malek、この3人のインタビューかな。

In May of this current year 2018, the mother-daughter duo of the project, made up by Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, started a podcast on StyleLikeU, which is available on all platform, YouTube included. Knowing their choices of people to interview, the topics they usually chose, the stories they were delivering in their videos, I was thrilled about it. Also because podcast discussions tend to be very open (as the people talking are not in front of a camera and they can be even more honest and real and transmit that full energy back to the listener), I wanted to check out what that was about. I started listening to each of them, every week, as they were released.

2018年の5月に、同じStyleLikeUから母娘のプロジェクトとしてElisa GoodkindとLily Mandelbaumの二人がPodcastを始めたの。(YouTubeなど様々な場所で視聴可能だよ。)二人が「What's Underneath」のシリーズで選んだインタビューする人々や話す内容、トピック、彼らがシェアするストーリーを知っていたから、このPodcastのプロジェクトにはワクワクした。それにPodcastって、動画と違ってカメラがない分、もっと正直でリアルな意見がフルエナジーで聴ける感じがするから、何かを議論するのにはぴったりだと思う。そして私は毎週、新しいエピソードがリリースされるたびに聴くようになったの。

At the end of June, they released a podcast where they interviewed Jacob Tobia, author, producer and (in his own words) ‘gender-fabulous’ human being. His perspective is unique, and still kind of far from my own, as he was brought up as a man and then later defined his gender and sexual identity - better, he chose not to. That is one of the reasons why probably his interview opened a whole new world to my view of femininity and gender. In it, in fact, he told how he started experimenting with fashion expression, doing his nails and wearing skirts.

6月末に、作家であり、プロデューサーでもあり、LGBT+サポーターでもあるJacob TobiaをインタビューしたPodcastがリリースされた。彼の考え方はユニークで、私とは全く違うもので、男として育ったけれど、彼は自身の性別やセクシャリティを選ばない方がいいと決めたの。そのこともあって、彼のインタビューは私が女であることや性別について考えさせてくれた。実際にインタビューの中で、ファッション、例えばネイルを塗ったり、スカートを履いたりして、自分で試してみたことを話していた。

The very first time one of his nails got chipped, he felt so bad and so uncomfortable – and then, he realized something. He realized that you are supposed to feel bad about that nail being chipped, and that leads you to the uncomfortable feeling of not being all tidy and perfect. The first time he used a business skirt, he realized how business skirts are made in such a way that you have no freedom to relax and open your legs, because ‘your underwear would show’, and so you have to keep your legs in such ways that may be uncomfortable – but avoiding the disgrace of showing your underwear (which literally everyone uses, so there is nothing really special or provocative about it) it’s more important. What does this all mean?


If your nail gets chipped, you won’t be pretty anymore, you will be a sloppy woman who isn’t able to take care of herself - or your underwear will show if you keep your legs too relaxed and you’ll not be perceived as a serious person, but rather provocative. I would add the use of heels – let’s be honest, they are damn uncomfortable, and don’t really let you free to move or run in moments of need or danger. So the result is: your movements will be more controlled, and so will be your physical expression, even in moments of need. As for fashion, now many things have changed, but I found Jacob Tobia’s interview enlightening and inspiring to never take things for granted and make conscious choices when it comes to gender rules and everything that revolves around it.

もしネイルが剥がれちゃったら、私たちはもう可愛くいられない。私たちは、だらしない自分を世話できない女になってしまう。私たちがビジネススカートを履いてリラックスしたら、パンツをおおっぴらに見せてしまうから真剣な人だなんて思ってもらえない。彼の意見に私の意見も追加するね。例えば、ヒールもそう。正直にいえば、ヒールってめちゃくちゃ心地悪い。自由に動いたり、もし必要だったり危険が身に迫っている時、全力で走ったりなんてできない。だから、ヒールも私たちの動きをコントロールしてるよねって思うの。ファッションとして、たくさんのものが変化している中で、Jacob Tobiaのインタビューは、いろいろなことに気づかされたし、もう少し自分の身の回りのものについて考えてみようと思わされたの。何を選んで着るのか、ジェンダーのルールやそこから生まれてくるものたちなど。

I started thinking about the possibility that many of the elements labeled as ‘feminine’ in women’s appearance (es. heels, nails, certain clothes) may have been elaborated by people who did not think from a woman's perspective, thus making it hard for women to defend themselves. For sure, we have done so much progress compared to the times when women were forced to wear corsets that surely allowed little to zero freedom of movement, or even of breathing. However, it’s very scary to think about the possibility that men throughout history might actually have planned such a beguiled without thinking of the effect they would have on women's bodies.


Don’t get me wrong: I do like wearing skirts, heels, having my nails polished, they are all things I do and wear! – but I don’t want to be judged based off that, and it is very off-putting to think about how hard would they make defending yourself in situations of abuse. I wish I could do it only for personal aesthetic, but at times I am reminded of the very material consequences that my style choices have.


Thankfully in this new wave of feminism we are getting more and more recognition, and more and more freedom of expression, and this is hugely influenced by fashion itself. I hope that one day we will live in a society where personal style choices can be made in a safe environment, without women having to worry about what happens if they're misunderstood, or worse, abused.

幸いなことに、新たなフェミニズムの波が押しよせてきていることで、もっともっと自由に表現したり、注目を浴びたりしているし、ファッションが大きく影響を与えている。いつか私たちが着ている洋服が悩みの種にならないように社会になったらいいなと思う。 I will end this article here. It may feel a bit controversial, but see it as a seed I am trying to plant, as my small part in supporting everyone that believes that fashion is expression and not repression. In this sense, StyleLikeU is an incredible platform that promotes style as a form of freedom. I would love to hear what you have to say on the topic.


Image by Marvi

Illustrations by Lola Rose

English Edited by Eli

Japanese Translation by Hikari

bottom of page