Michaela Angela Davis Strips Down For The “What’s Underneath Project,” Talks Racism, Insecurities
Michaela Angela Davis has long been everything and then some to us, and our opinion of the writer, culture critique, and activist has only skyrocketed after watching her strip down for StyleLikeU’s highly regarded “What’s Underneath Project.”
The viral series which has garnered more than 18 million views worldwide is the ultimate test in vulnerability, asking subjects to strip down to their underwear as they discuss issues as equally exposing as their personal insecurities. StyleLikeU asked Davis why she agreed to such an introspective interview and she said her hope is that someone might see what she’s doing and feel equally free to be her true self, explaining:
“I don’t know any woman that was in my family that did something just for themselves. We were always towing people out of slavery, towing people out of harm’s way. Like, you bring your sisters with you. That’s just how I’m organized.”
And we’re thankful for that. Here are the highlights from Davis’ interview:
On assumptions people make about her because of how she looks
“The first, sort of obvious assumption is that I’m mixed race– like one parent is white, one parent is Black — and it’s not so. Both of my parents are light-skinned and Black. Both of my parents are products of what I call the great horror story of America and the great love story of America. In order to survive, often families would marry other light-skinned Blacks to stay alive.
“So many people would want me to be something other than Black… There’s never been a time where I haven’t been, not just proud, but grateful to be Black. We not only survived, we gave this country culture. We gave you spirituality, then we gave you jazz, then we gave you blues, then we gave you hip-hop, then we gave you art and rock and soul and style and food and a soul. Why wouldn’t I want to be that? That sh-t is hot to me!”
Her biggest insecurity (and sex)
“When I did become pregnant, I was very large, very round. I was covering myself with oils, but I didn’t get underneath. I didn’t see underneath. I had some torn muscles and some stretch marks and I’ve been in battle with that since then — my daughter’s 25 year’s old. So for many years I avoided really paying attention to my stomach. I still have a hard time. You know, when I look in the mirror and go ‘what’s up what’s up what’s up,’ I’m not talking to her. I’m not talking to this part… I’m working physically and spiritually to not be at odds with nature, with myself.
“So part of my gift to myself at my 50th birthday. I decided that I was going to start to have peace with my stomach. And so part of that was to get a tattoo.”
(We can’t even relay in words the emotional story Davis shared of having her tattoo, having sex with a slip, and then telling her lover the morning after he should see her tattoo. You must listen to that story starting at 8:42.)
When she feels most beautiful
“I feel the most beautiful when I’m telling the truth.”