After Nicole Weider had been modeling in Hollywood for a number of years, she got to meet Gisele Bündchen at a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot.
She recalls telling her how pretty her hair was, only to have Bündchen tell her that it was just extensions put in for the shoot. As the shoot progressed some of the photographers called Weider over to look at the pictures on the screen.
She was shocked to see that as the pictures would come up they would Photoshop and retouch them in real time – making the models’ noses thinner, or touching up parts of their body on the screen.
Weider said it was after seeing the way they doctored the pictures that she realized “the whole industry was so fake and superficial,” and that she wanted more for her life.
Soon after, Weider became a Christian and set out navigating how to be a believer in Hollywood, and also how to be a role model for young girls in an industry with very few. She stopped doing lingerie ads, because she said she “felt like a piece of meat” when she was doing them.
Now, Weider, who has been modeling and acting since the age of 5, only takes jobs that she feels line up with her Christian values and works on her new website called Project Inspired.
The primary focus of Project Inspired is to give teen girls another option. It’s a way for Weider to tell them that they don’t need to abuse their bodies, dress more provocatively, and behave immorally just because that’s what society promotes. Part of the idea behind the website is to help give young girls a direction in looking for positive role models in society.
Weider said one of the biggest problems young girls face today is the “pressure to be sexual and sexy.” She said in today’s society many young girls feel the pressure to look like the women on magazine covers or like pop stars.
Topics on the site include a tab called Culture Shock, where Weider talks about the lies told in the media through advertising and marketing. She addresses different messages that stars promote, like Lady Gaga or the struggles Disney star Demi Lovato has gone through.
Real Beauty is another section on the site, and its main focus is to “celebrate a woman’s natural beauty, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.” It includes a space where girls can send in pictures of themselves without makeup to enforce ideas of natural and inner beauty.
There are also sections for dating and relationship advice as well. Weider said the site gives insight into issues girls face every day.
She wants her site to “be a full service website that talks about everything.” It features girl talk message boards where users can post questions and Weider will answer their individual questions and offer advice and encouragement.
"There are so many 'secrets' out there that promise to put your life on the best path. I tried them all, but only one worked: Putting my faith in God," she says on her website.
Through her platform and desire to give young girls a positive message that inner beauty is just as important as outer beauty, Weider started the Anti-Cosmo campaign. She said she had girls writing her letters talking about how Cosmopolitan Magazine negatively affected them.
Cosmo is the number one selling women’s magazine in the United States, and Weider said it negatively targets young girls. Her Anti-Cosmo campaign has gathered over 10,000 signatures, and they are continuing to garner support. The campaign is petitioning Chairman of the FTC John Leibowitz, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Media Buyers to have Cosmo sold in a nontransparent wrapper.
In the petition letter, she states, “This publication has steadily declined into a full-on pornographic ‘how to’ guide for insecure women and vulnerable young girls. Almost every issue features inappropriate ‘tips’ to try new sex moves.”
For Weider, the magazine is another example of giving young girls the wrong message – that “your value is based on your sex skills.”
She said the entertainment industry is a hard business to be a Christian in. It chews up and destroys many young women. There is pressure to sell more albums by being sexy or dressing provocatively. “In the entertainment industry you see so few Christians,” she said.
She hopes that her website will be one small step toward giving girls a different message. For her, the entertainment industry only places value on outer beauty, but Weider and her website are seeking to promote a counter-cultural message – that real beauty comes from within.