Rachel Fleit, director of creative development at Honor NYC, is a favorite at Refinery29 for a few reasons. She's got enviable style, her beauty regimen is one to copy, and her outlook on life is a balance of peacefulness and constant zeal. But, her recent interview with StyleLikeU's series What's Underneath, where interviewees are asked to remove their clothes as they answer questions, reveals a closer look at Rachel's radiant nature. It turns out, there's even more to love about her.
Rachel, who has had alopecia since she was 18 months old, describes what she experienced growing up. "I wore a really thick eyeliner and bangs, so no one would know that I didn't have eyelashes or eyebrows," she tells the interviewer. "But, everyone knew. The kids at school knew I had a wig, but they knew I didn't want to talk about it."
Once she hit college, she decided to ditch the wig — a choice she found liberating — but was met with some confusion from people who didn't know of her condition. "People, I think, assume that I have cancer," she says. But, Rachel handled these situations with the charm and spunk she's now known for. "In my 20s I'd be smoking a cigarette, drinking whiskey at a bar, and people would come up to me and be like, 'I'm praying for you.' And, I'd be like, 'Great! I need all of the prayers I can get,'" she says, laughing.
The beauty of Rachel's interview is how she reveals more about herself with each article of clothing she removes. The process becomes an unwrapping and an unpacking of Rachel as a person, but, at the end of the video, we see that Rachel already knows who she is. "I know for a fact that I wouldn't be who I am if I had the long blonde, brown, whatever hair. Like, I know. The depth would not be there," she says. "You are who you are today — it's perfect."
It's a sentiment that seems very personal but one we feel also resonates beyond Rachel herself. Even when we're at our most vulnerable, like standing almost completely naked in front of a camera, nothing changes who we are at our core. Who we are today is a culmination of all of our experiences. And, no amount of makeup or clothing can actually alter that. It's a beautiful truth Rachel helps us recognize, and it's one we plan to remember.