Cover Girl Culture website

Articles Written By: cgc

Fox News coverage of Nicole’s Workshops for Girls

Don’t be a Kardashian! Former model Nicole Clark teaches teen girls to navigate dangerous mainstream media.

Maria Shriver shares article written by Nicole to help women.


Nicole’s 2nd article featured on Maria Shriver’s site

How to Inspire Girls to Break the Media’s Spell


During my self-esteem and body image workshops, I’ve had girls tell me they want to look like the size zero models in the magazines.

They truly believed it was their ‘want’ and their desire, until I explained how media can manipulate their thoughts the same way the “Imperius Curse” can make a person believe and do certain things.

What is the “Imperius Curse” you ask? It’s one of the Unforgivable Curses from the Harry Potter books and movies, and I have found that it is one sure-fire way to get girls to understand the power media can have over them.

With one simple pop-culture reference, shock and horror flash across kids’ faces, as they suddenly understand how they’ve been manipulated by magazines and media.

Many media and advertising messages are sneaky and covert. They easily implant inside young girls’ minds undetected and can grow into a virus that can consume their thoughts and feelings. Just like the “Imperius Curse”.

It is my job to help girls wake-up and take back control of their thoughts and feelings about their bodies, and ultimately themselves.

Several girls who’d been in an eating disorder program have shared with me, after my workshop, that they finally GOT IT – they understood how they’ve been duped into not liking their bodies and it took my pop-culture references to help them understand. It’s a perfect example of how media can be used for good.

I have found through my workshops and interviews that girls respond if you speak their language; which means using references from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and other popular fan-based fiction as tools to help illustrate messages and engage girls in topics they would normally tune-out.

Suddenly self-esteem is cool and seen as a superpower, and they understand the power media can have over an “un-shielded” mind.

I use pop-culture references girls adore, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Star Wars, and even Superman, to help them understand how they can use the “powers” their heroes have to overcome what oppresses them.

Of course, they don’t all have to be superheroes. When I was a kid I adored Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. She was strong-headed, creative, smart, outspoken, a free-thinker, and total romantic.

She challenged the system, showed people new ways to see the world and stood-up to bullies. I used Anne as a role-model and adopted many of these qualities in my life: I stand-up to bullies in girl-related media and find creative way to handle obstacles.

Parents can connect with a daughter (or son) to discuss just about anything using pop-culture references. Books, films, TV shows, and even cartoons and comic books are filled with characters who face similar challenges to us.

If your teen is having a difficult time grasping a valuable lesson or concept, perhaps you can help them by involving a pop-culture reference in a creative way. Check out Dr. Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars, X-Men and The Hunger Games, just to name a few.

Harry Potter and Superman are my main pop-culture references that generally work with all ages. I often liken my workshops to the class at Hogwarts “Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

Girls love the concept and are immediately attentive. Some girls even raise imaginary wands to dispel the negative messages the media cast at them! Learning becomes fun and self-esteem ‘shields’ grow stronger.

Here are some suggestions on how to get started:

  • Learn what pop-culture characters your daughter really admires. Watch the movies, read the books and find ways to integrate them into discussions on important topics. Yes, this can actually be fun!
  • Select historical icons from women’s social movements and connect them to modern pop-culture heroines and presto – history lesson. Girls may begin to see the suffragettes as super-heroes standing up for truth and justice instead of “women from long ago who complained about equal rights for women”.
  • Challenge girls to research some powerful women who are creating positive change today. Compare them to pop-culture heroes and identify what ‘superpowers’ they are using to create social change.
  • Have them take dis-empowering lyrics from popular music and re-write it as an empowering song.
  • Every super-hero has a weakness they must overcome. The weakness is what bad guys prey upon. Have girls identify their own weakness…and find ways to strengthen it.
  • Help create a Clever Girl Culture: one in which girls have full authorship of their lives and execute their rights to equality and dignity.
  • Remember, you are her biggest role-model. Do you best to exemplify healthy self-esteem; what does it look and sounds like? Fake it if you must – and avoid body bashing commentary in front of your child. Exhibit heroic qualities in your life and language.
  • Host a screening of Cover Girl Culture at your school or community (60-min DVD edition comes with follow-up questions/activities). Invite girls to discuss their feelings about how the media’s manipulated them. Encourage them to write letters or take action by starting an online petition or advocacy group in their school.

I have found that girls want something to rebel against and push-back against, so encourage them to target media that attempts to undermine their health and mental well-being, and then let them flex their superhero GRRRRRL power.

Encourage them to be like their media heroes and take actions that create positive change. They can write letters to the editors at magazines, producers of TV shows, or movies that sexualize young girls, use unrealistic beauty ideals, and promote size zero. They can sign this petition.

We need our girls’ hearts and voices ignited with passion, compassion and action! Pop-culture can inspire girls to find their voices.

If it works – do it. Find creative ways to turn on the lights and rouse girls from the spell they are under. Help them find their way out of the media matrix and become super-hero architects of positive change.

One of my mottos: Are you afraid of stepping on toes or ruffling feathers? If the guilty party is manipulating children and young girls don’t hold back.

Take names, wear boots, and dance on as many toes as possible. Get their attention and keep stepping until someone agrees to healthy change.


Anorexia survivor helps girls by hosting Nicole’s workshops.

14 yr old Chantel Casey, from Ontario, saw a news story about my documentary that inspired her to help girls in her community. At the time she was in recovery for anorexia. She contacted me and asked me to share my workshops with girls in her community so no one else would have to suffer from an eating disorder. The same news program contacted her to learn of her amazing story as a champion for girls in her world.

Find Chantel Casey’s FB page Size Zero is not our Hero.

Teacher creates 119 activists after viewing Cover Girl Culture


































It reads:

 “After a unit taught to students about media, body image and self-esteem, students at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart decided to take action. These 12, 13 and 14 year old girls were exposed to a documentary titled, Cover Girl Culture by Nicole Clark that shines a different light on how they might be impacted by the media. Students then read through, processed and discussed current editions of Teen Vogue magazine for proof.
This film inspired all 119 students to write and send letters to the editor and chief of Teen Vogue, asking for her to not only take accountability of the impact of their ads, but to also make a change. Each student hand wrote their letter identifying how the ads, specifically in Teen Vogue, make her feel regarding her body, how it has impacted her friends, and what she thinks the editor could do in order to make the messages more empowering. The director of Cover Girl Culture, Nicole Clark, also displayed their work on her website:

BBB Magazine interview
























Canadian Mental Health Board shares success of Nicole’s workshops.



Everyone wants to belong.  Everyone wants to have friends.  Everyone wants to fit in.  For some, this comes naturally.  For others, they struggle to the point it can affect their mental health. What is the difference?  Well, there is no one answer to that, but positive protective factors such as a properly stocked “emotional tool box” can definitely play a big part.  We also know that the world is changing faster than many of us can keep up.  The image media sells us as the ‘ideal’ image has changed over the years.  And so too has the number of times we see those images on a daily basis.

So what can be done?  There are many different ‘tools” we can put in our toolbox and seeing a Nicole Clark “Cover Girl Culture” presentation is definitely a “multi-use” tool for sure!

We had the great pleasure of hosting a week-long series of cover Girl Culture presentations in our region this past April.  Nicole travelled to our rural area on a veritable “road trip”, visiting 9 schools in 5 days.  The audience varied from a small group of Grade 6 to 8 girls to over 400 male and female high school students. Each time, Nicole delivered the consistent message of how to be a media renegade and how to have ninja self-esteem.

We continue to receive positive feedback from these presentations as well as requests to have her return to the area to visit to make additional presentations.  Although it wasn’t the intended message of the presentations, helpful discussions also took place about eating disorders before, during and following the presentations.  This was an unexpected result but very much an appreciated one.  Teachers and school guidance counselors continue to email us with reports of students who have approached them since to disclose about their body image struggles and as a result, in many of the cases, the students have been able to make that first step on the road to recovery. As an additional sign of how well the presentations were received, our local public school board ordered a set of the Cover Girl Culture workshop DVD’s for EVERY high school within the board, whether they hosted a presentation or not.

Personally, I appreciated the message Nicole brought to the girls in our area.  As someone who visits schools daily, spreading the message of what is good mental health, how important it is to have it and how to achieve it, I was totally impressed with Nicole’s presentations.  Her manner was completely professional.  She was flexible with any situation she encountered.  She fielded questions and responses from the audience with ease and poise.  In fact, I was so impressed with Nicole’s presentations, after her visit, I forwarded her information to all my colleagues across Ontario who do similar work.

I truly hope you follow through with your interest in booking Nicole Clark to come to speak to your youth via her Cover Girl Culture presentations.  The learning will be so valuable and have positive ramifications for a long time to come.  Please feel free to contact me at the contact information listed above for a more detailed reference if required.


Jackie Ralph

Owen Sound    •    Markdale    •    Kincardine    •    Hanover    •    Southampton

Jackie Ralph, Youth Mental Health Awareness Coordinator

119 Girls Write Teen Vogue letters demanding +change in media.

Girls request Teen Vogue uses healthy models. Hear what Teen Vogue has to say. Sign the Petition!

Teen girl’s letter to Teen Vogue – from a ‘mad 7th grader’ in Miami Florida. Media Renegades!!


Teen Vogue editor’s view of their magazine VS a teenage girl’s view of their magazine.

Nicole Clark reads one of the girls letters to Teen Vogue. This one is by Milan, age 13.

Teen girls write Teen Vogue demanding healthy images and age appropriate content. Media Renegades!.

 another letter from one of the teen girls in Miami written to the editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue.
 More listed on my youtube channel: MediaTrends stay tuned for more letters!


Vogue’s weak attempt to “play nice” and make changes in their pages.

BEWARE the SNEAKY LEGAL SPEAK in Vogue’s ‘guidelines’…

Vogue editors have made the following six-point agreement:

1. We will not KNOWINGLY work with models under the age of 16 or who APPEAR to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image

2. We will ASK agents not to KNOWINGLY send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns. (right, because no teen has fake ID)

3. We will help to structure mentoring programmes where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative. (??? Older models have been helping younger models this whole time)

4. We will ENCOURAGE producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late. (how will this help? This makes NO sense to me. I modeled with Elite internationally)

5. We ENCOURAGE designers to CONSIDER the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models. (even editors know they cannot dictate to designers)

6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image. (I’ll take a REAL message of healthy body-image over Vogue’s twisted idea of it)

SHOW ME THE CHANGES – don’t write guidelines and hope it’s the right band-aid we all need.

This was in Teen Vogue’s “athletic” March 2012 issue… What the heck are they smoking over there?? Clearly no change has been made — this was released during 2012 — when they had made their “guidelines” for us.

This just in!!  Girls in 7th & 8th grade, from Miami, wrote me about Cover Girl Culture and the editors at the fashion magazines.  VERY TIMELY.

The documentary Cover Girl Culture showed me how the fashion industry really works. I believe that if enough people saw this documentary, or others like it, that we could truly change the fashion industry.

–Emily, 14

I thought the film showed us that Teen Vogue pretends to care about the health of their models but in reality, they just want super skinny, anorexic girls. Many of these girls had eating disorders and nobody cared!

-Allegra, 14

Cover Girl Culture really helped me look at myself better. The great interviews made me realize that not only do the models in the media have health problems (eating disorders, etc.), but also that the people behind the magazines are oblivious to the impact they have on all girls. This “perfect” image they are sending is dangerous because girls think to get people to like them they need to look like that and have that body, resulting in mental and physical problems in young girls.

-Olivia, 14

I think the movie Cover Girl Culture really calls attention to one of the major problems in our society today. Many fashion magazines are putting a false image of perfection into the minds of young girls which makes them want to attain the unattainable. Cover Girl Culture helps us see what these magazines are doing and how they are poisoning the brains of young women.

–Gaby, 14

It’s funny to watch the magazine editors try to make themselves and others around them believe that they are supporting the cause rather than destroying millions of teenagers’ self esteem and lives.

I didn’t realize how much magazines and models actually affect teen girls (myself included). It’s scary. I suddenly feel so protective over my sisters. I want to make sure that none of this ever happens to them because now I know that it can, and does, ruin countless teenage lives and crushes our self esteem every day. How can those editors not care what they are doing to their daughters?! I find it sad and heartless.

-Christina, 14

Cover Girl Culture made me realize that the editors of magazines basically contradict themselves when they are interviewed.  They claim to use normal sized girls in their ads, when in reality the girls they use are far from “normal” looking.  It is because of these editors that a teenager’s idea of normal is completely wrong.  The editors are oblivious to the damage they are doing to these teenagers.  It is really sad.

-Maddie, 14

Cover Girl Culture showed me how hypocritical magazine editors are, saying that they try to choose healthy girls modeling when that is not what they are putting in the magazine. It helped me to realize that teenage girls are not the one with the problem (which is what the magazines are making it seem like), the editor’s expectations are. The models are damaging their bodies to live up to the editor’s expectations.

-Fifi, 14

Cover Girl Culture helped me understand what actual beauty is. It also helped me understand that society negatively impacts our view of beauty.

-Linda, 14

What I thought about the documentary of Cover Girl Culture is that it is a way that girls can open up to reality and see what the possibilities are in life instead of the unachievable. This movie shows girls that what we see in magazines and all the commercials is not reality and that beauty is being oneself because everyone is beautiful in their own way. Cover Girl Culture sends out a positive influence for troubled people that feel insecure about themselves. I think that this movie is like a wake-up call to all those people that are unhappy with themselves and helps them to see that being like the models in magazines is unhealthy and it gets to a point that those models stop being beautiful. It also makes a stand to all those magazine companies that are sending out negative messages and are influencing minds in the wrong way.

-Andrea, 14

I personally thought the movie was the final factor that really showed me the truth behind the models of Teen Vogue. You could already see how skinny the models were in the magazines but the movie showed how unhealthy they actually were. The fact that the workers at Teen Vogue basically admitted the lies they have been telling without even realizing it was very interesting. The reactions of the girls my age truly opened my eyes on how pressured some girls feel. It was very impacting to see how much Teen Vogue influences teenage girls.

–Julia, 14

The film gave me a clear understanding of how magazine editors are so blind about how they affect society. Compared to their standards I would be considered “ugly”, and I don’t think I am.

-Natalie, 13

This movie has showed me how much the media affects us. This movie has changed my perspective on how to view the media and everything they put out there.

-Giana, 13

The documentary ‘Cover Girl Culture’ has really affected me and I now understand what magazines are doing to girls. When I see a magazine like Teen Vogue, I will think of the documentary. I loved how the editors were contradicted by showing pages from the magazine.

Francesca, 14

Because of many magazines like Teen Vogue and Elle, many girls today are being blinded by the fact that they have to be “perfect” or “skinny.”  They don’t see that they don’t have to be skinny, or tan, or tall, to be beautiful; because as long as they are themselves, they are more beautiful than the girls in the magazines that starve themselves to be “perfect.”

-Kateri, 13

I normally don’t look at Teen Vogue, but just by watching this movie I was very amazed on what people do to get teenage girls’ attention towards clothes and fashion. After watching this movie I would want the magazines to change the way that they do these things.

–Thalia,  13

I think the film was great! I like how this film shows how, we, as teenagers feel.

-Laura, 13

I enjoyed watching Cover Girl Culture because it showed me that media basically gets a girl to feel bad about herself by picking models that are extremely skinny. From watching this video I have learned to love my body for what it is, not what the media says.

-Sofia, 14

Cover Girl Culture was super informative. My favorite thing about it was how the different editors were interviewed, and they tried to defend their magazine; but their argument didn’t count when you opened their magazine.

-Ceci, 14

The film Cover Girl Culture really showed me that the media influences young girls so much that it has become normal in our everyday lives. This type of media affects the minds of girls, altering their perception of beauty to an unreal idea that they can never attain.

-Isa, 14

I feel hurt and offended that these magazines would do this. These are the magazines that I go to for advice and it is discouraging to see they are betraying me.

-Sabrina, 14

These pages of “perfect” women do nothing but discourage young readers who are learning what and who they want to look like. The magazine’s readers turn to them for advice and instead of helping, it makes them dislike themselves more.

-Luli, 14

The film Cover Girl Culture hit it right on the nail, because many girls/teens look at magazines and think “WOW those girls are so pretty”, but they don’t even notice what it does to their self confidence. Cover Girl Culture gave us an awareness that we don’t/shouldn’t look up to those anorexic models used in ads, but be happy about the way we are!

-Marloes, 13

The movie about the editors from Teen Vogue showed me that I am not the only person that believes it is not normal to look super-duper skinny, Also it showed me what the editors at Teen Vogue believe is pretty and how people (normal looking people) also believe that they do not portray beauty.

-Elisa, 14

I think that the film, Cover Girl Culture, is accurately stating what teenage girls feel when looking at magazines with anorexic models. Seeing other girls saying that this “impossible perfection” makes them feel bad about themselves, makes me feel that I’m not alone. Now I that I learned that the anorexic models are not what we call “fit”, I will not let the pictures make me feel bad about myself.

-Adri, 14

The film Cover Girl Culture made my realize how the media is affecting the lives of teenage girls today. The film made me realize that there has to be a change in our generation of today; because those models that are supposed to be an inspiraton are giving us all a negative impact everyday.

-Valentina, 14

I learned a lot from the film, Cover Girl Culture. The eating disorders of the models in Teen Vogue are alarmingly sickening for many, and offensive for others. My belief is if a person deems they are beautiful on the inside then other people will recognize that as well. Learning this fact can help create a confident personality that is not just about exterior.

-Megan, 13

I thought that the film was very interesting and showed the truth on what the magazines are portraying. I found it ironic how the models were talking about eating disorders, but then it is obvious they are struggling with the same issues! Society needs to take more action.

-Francesa, 14

The movie, Cover Girl Culture, supported my belief in that everyone is perfect in their own way. It made me feel good to hear that all sizes are the right size.

-Jasmine, 13

The movie “Cover Girl Culture” was a good way to inform people of the horrible messages magazines send. The movie made me feel better about myself.

Hallery, 13

CTV London Features Nicole’s Workshops

March 2012 CTV News London featured a story on the work I am doing to help girls.

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