“This didn’t make sense, as I’d never had unprotected sex in my life. Plus, I wasn’t the sort of person STDs happened to. I was a Planned Parenthood volunteer, a sexuality studies major, and everyone’s go-to friend when they had questions about losing their virginity. How could I have caught something when I had always been so careful?”

20-something feminist and sex writer Ella Dawson became the unrepentant face of herpes when her April 2015 Women’s Health article about how she contracted the incurable and stigmatized virus went viral. Now, in a symbolic move to strip off the stigma around STIs, she strips down, piece by piece, to her underwear in this video as she bravely tells her story of life with herpes.

Ella’s candid video is part of The What’s Underneath Project from StyleLikeU, a video platform and movement founded by a mother-daughter team who are empowering people to accept and express their true selves.

You can hear and learn more from Ella on her blog.