Cover Girl Culture

Category: Reviews

Nicole makes the Mayor’s Honor List in 2010

Below is a letter of congratulations from the MP of Lambton County for my award from the Mayor.

Amazing review on

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing & Timely, August 23, 2011
Carl J Sheusi (NYC, NY United States)
This review is from: Cover Girl Culture : Awakening the Media Generation (DVD)

I just finished watching Cover Girl Culture and feel a profound sense of gratitude for the powerful message put forth in this film. The film’s message honors the inherent beauty and goodness in all of us, especially our young. If this film was required viewing for all young girls and boys (and dare I say, most adult women and men) the world and it’s media outlets would be a more informed, empowering, and possibly enlightened place for this and future generations to inhabit and glean information and wisdom from. Girls and boys senses of self become brutalized by incessant demands to measure up to presented ideals of femininity and masculinity, which do not align with the highest ideals in Nature…all life is given freely and we have the choice to honor this gift with affirming images and messages or attempt to degrade it with demeaning and demoralizing content simply because it has “market value”. What market is worth a young person’s pride and belief in themselves as contributing members of society? Will one independent film tip the scales of decency and righteousness in favor of Spirit and bring the vapid money machine of mass media to a unequivocal and resounding halt in the present or distant future? Most likely not…and this precisely why this film is so important. If every person that sees this film feels empowered to make wiser and more compassionate choices of what they are willing to view and in turn broadcast in their personal style with a degree more sensitivity to the radical beauty of all living beings we may just lower the anxiety level of the planet a few notches and calm the jangled nerves of many more teen girls and boys starved for role models that feed their souls and not starve them like the models made up for a roles in fantasy worlds designed to hoodwink them into believing they belong in it.

Astute review of CGC in ‘Sex Roles’ – A Journal of Research

Here is a new phenomenal review of Cover Girl Culture by Tracy Tylka at Ohio State University and Rachel Calogero at Virginia Wesleyan College.  Their review will be appearing in the BodyImage special issue this fall. It is, by far, the most astute and thorough review received to date. Thank you to Tracy & Rachel.

To download the journal review click here on the file here: (a pdf file)

Below is a sample taken from the journal:

“In the documentary, Cover Girl Culture: Awakening the Media Generation, director Nicole Clark exposes the
lifestyle advocated in fashion magazines as illusory and reveals the many mental health and societal problems that
could result from girls’ exposure to these images. Clark, a former Elite international fashion model and
ongoing advocate for girls’ self-esteem, has a campaign to alert the audience to (a) the marketing motives, messages,
and strategies embedded in fashion magazines; (b) how girls are affected by these fashion magazines; and (c) ways
to champion a positive change for girls’ mental health.

Clark’s modus operandi includes interviews which alternate between girls who have internalized media messages; girls
who challenge these messages; fashion, modeling, and marketing executives who promote and rationalize these
messages; and body image therapists, coaches, and authors who highlight the destructiveness of these messages. A
motivational speaker, mayor, cosmetic/reconstructive surgeon, and several models are also interviewed. The
oscillation between interviews is skillfully arranged highlight broad themes and contradictory viewpoints.

Media images of models are interwoven within and between interviews to reinforce or even refute interview
content. Viewers do not see Clark, and her questions are either absent or barely audible in order to direct the spotlight on the words and expressions of the individuals being interviewed.

Clark’s inclusion of media images of models is similar to the analytic technique used by Jean Kilbourne in Killing Us Softly 4 (Kilbourne and Jhally 2010) and Mary Pipher in Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls
(Pipher et al. 1998). Specifically, a large collection of media images are presented and examined with a critical eye,
raising viewers’ awareness that these images sell more than products: a circumscribed vision of beauty, values, success,
sexuality, and normalcy. All three films reveal that the mass media socialize young girls to believe that they must spend
an enormous amount of time, energy, and money to achieve the look contained in media images, and it is emphasized
that they feel ashamed and guilty when they fail. Kilbourne takes this discourse a step further, discussing how girls’
failure to achieve this image is inevitable—pictures of models are “photoshopped” and “airbrushed” to appear
flawless so even the models do not look like the images based on them. All three films discuss the media’s
sexualization of young girls and the deleterious consequences of this practice.

The main difference between Cover Girl Culture and the two earlier films, Killing Us Softly 4 and Reviving Ophelia,
is the presentation style. Kilbourne and Pipher serve as visible narrators who address their points in a very direct
manner, while Clark presents a collection of voices from varied individuals who address their points in a more
poignant, and at times, personal manner. Clark’s method allows her to position statements from executives who work
in the fashion and marketing industry against body image experts and media images that refute their claims, allowing
viewers to see that these executives may “talk the talk” but do not “walk the walk.” In addition, Clark’s interviews
portray the perspectives of girls ranging in age from 6 to 18, showing viewers how entrenched these ideas of beauty
and image have become in the minds of very young girls.

For example, Kailey, 11 years of age with a full set of acrylic nails and a made up face, already identifies
herself as a compulsive shopper.”   – by Tracy Tylka at Ohio State University and Rachel Calogero at Virginia Wesleyan College

*to read the review in it’s entirety download the attached pdf.

Another excerpt (and there is a good deal more in the journal)

Audrey Brashich, an author of a media literacy guide, explains that it is useful for girls to
see photographs of celebrities without makeup or before digital modification; however, she notes that girls then
scrutinize the appearance of these celebrities and turn the scrutiny back on themselves. She reveals that this practice
reinforces girls to judge all females, including themselves,on their physical appearance.

No one assumes responsibility for the negative effects of girls’ internalization of the thin ideal, which is the second
theme in this documentary. Various individuals in the modeling and fashion industry are represented in Cover
Girl Culture, with each deflecting responsibility. A modeling agent states that he is not to blame for girls’ negative
body image. Rather, he chooses who his clients want to book, and if he does not provide thin girls for his clients,
then they will go to his competitor. A model suggests that models are not to blame, as they are conforming to the
standards set by the fashion and magazine editors. One fashion editor indicates that she blames Hollywood.

Although fashion executives for Teen Vogue acknowledge their power to set trends, they argue that they are not
responsible for girls’ negative body image, because they choose “real girls” who are “healthy” with “big smiles” and are
“not too skinny.” They assert that they care about their readers’ health, and mention their magazine’s various
articles on girls’ health and misuse of dieting as well as messages to “be the best you can be” and “love your body.”
Their voices remain audible as Clark exposes very thin expressionless models from Teen Vogue that blatantly
contradict the fashion executives’ statements. Body image authors, coaches, and a girls’ media literacy group state
emphatically that positive body image articles are nullified by the advertisements appearing in the magazine. An
adolescent-focused psychotherapist is shown asserting that for every one negative message sent, it requires seven
positive messages to counteract it. Clark demonstrates that in Teen Vogue, the number of advertisements represents
approximately two-thirds of the content and overwhelms the number of articles, suggesting a strong negative impact
for readers is very likely.
The fashion editors in Cover Girl Culture argue that their magazine images provide an “incredible fantastical element”
that is inspirational for girls and women. One remarks, “Women project themselves into the fantasy pages
of what they would like to see for themselves. The magic of that exercise is very joyful, fulfilling, and rewarding.” This
fashion editor then indicates that eating disorders are due to past sexual abuse, not media images. Connie Sobczak, a
body image expert in the film, passionately addresses the absurdity of this fashion editor’s statements by arguing,
“You’re projecting a dream for women to go after that you know they can never achieve, and you’re calling that joy?”
Other body image experts in the film also remark that the fashion editor’s reasoning is inaccurate, stating that reading
fashion magazines creates a body comparing dynamic—girls are left feeling badly when their bodies do not match models’
bodies. The body image experts’ statements are supported by anecdotal evidence offered by several girls in the film as well
as empirical research (Bessenoff 2006; Durkin and Paxton 2002; Groesz et al. 2002).”

Girl Scout Troop Leader review of CGC

Review from Los Angeles Girl Scout Leader:
“As a Girl Scout Troop Leader, I deal with the impact the media’s messages have on our girls.

Cover Girl Culture is an eye-opening documentary I believe is important for girls in my troop to see.  We watched CGC in three parts with a discussion session after each segment.  I was amazed by the insights the 7th grade girls came away with regarding the mixed messages, hypocrisy and lack of responsibility the teen magazines and fashion industry churn out. They were so passionate about how important this message is that they chose this topic for their Journey Take Action Project.

These girls will never look at a fashion magazine or fashion ads the same way thanks to Cover Girl Culture. Because Girl Scouting is about building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place, our workshop built around Cover Girl Culture was the perfect place to set an example.

I feel this is a video not only for girls, teenagers, and young women, but one that every parent should watch. Parents and adult women need to understand and realize how their behaviors and habits impact their own self-esteem, their daughter’s and other young girls who are watching!” – ELISSA M. JACKSON, Girl Scout Troop Leader, Cadette Troop 2943

Excellent News Coverage July 2011 issue

Marketers and advertisers are smarter than you…

SUMMARY OF REVIEW by PENNY COLLINS:  “I consider myself media literate, but this documentary still made my jaw drop. The director, Nicole Clark, wove together interviews with young girls, fashion magazine execs, psychologists, motivational speakers, models, and teachers, which she then layered with images from Teen Vogue and ELLE magazines in an incredibly powerful way.”

“The most difficult part of this review is deciding which fashion editor’s quotes to use, as they were all so horrifying. The Teen Vogue and ELLE editors interviewed maintain earnest faces while insisting their magazines feature healthy body images, relevant lifestyle articles, and a needed escape into fashion fantasy. They help girls “reinvent themselves and decide who they are going to be.” How generous. Anne Slowey, a Feature Editor at ELLE and currently my new imagined face of Satan, referred to the fashion layouts as personally rewarding for readers. “We are realistic that this [fashion spread] is a dream. The ‘dream pages.’ Women project themselves into the fantasy of what they want to see for themselves. The magic of that exercise is joyful, it’s really rewarding.” Oh, definitely. Clearly drugs are still a huge problem in the fashion world.”

“If you have a child, watching Cover Girl Culture is a great way to up your own media literacy. It is powerful, educational, and happily, accessible.”

“Children are incredibly impressionable and are mimicking what they see before they can even talk.  A psychologist featured in the film names a positive maternal self-image as the first line of defense against the media attack on our children. My heart broke when I first saw my daughter checking out her own butt in the mirror – a behavior I have not been able to break her of, and one she learned from me. Recently I realized the danger in letting her sit on the sink with me while I do my makeup. Running out of the house last week she yelled, “Wait! I have to put my pretty face on!” Ouch. A tender mother-daughter morning ritual is put aside and I now sneak my makeup on while she’s doing something else. On a good day, I skip the make up altogether and show her that our faces are ‘pretty faces’ all on their own. It looks like we’re both growing.”

Full review here

Powerful review from Licensed Psychologist

“I have treated Eating Disorders for 20 years. In that time, I have never come across anything that has the impact of ‘Cover Girl Culture’. The filmmaker did a brilliant job of exposing the media’s soul-killing influence on our girls today.  I believe that all parents of girls should see this film.”
Kelly Boswell, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

Magazine review – Pentacostal Evangel

Feb 2011 review in Pentecostal Evangel by John W. Kennedy.

Cover Girl Culture at Arizona State University

Feb 2011 ASU hosts a screening of Cover Girl Culture during their Body Pride Awareness Week.

Nicole was invited to speak to the students after the screening.

Here are two articles from Arizona State Press covering the event:

ASU State Press: Skin Deep
Confidence at heart of Body Pride Week – ASU State Press

Ms. Magazine – review Oct 2010

“Former Elite model Nicole Clark juxtaposes what the fashion editors of teen magazines say and what their publications actually do, exposing their hypocrisy.  They claim to feature “real” girls in their fashion spreads, but the photos of emaciated models tell a different story. Both advertisers and the editorial content convince teenage readers that the most important goal is physical perfection while priming them to buy and consume at the cost of their health and happiness.

The documentary reveals the insidious reality of U.S. consumer cultuer and tells parents how to combat the beauty industry’s grasp on their daughters:  Teach media literacy.”

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