Former Model Nicole Weider on Finding Her Identity in Christ: ‘I Felt Like My Dignity Was Back’
By Movieguide® Staff
Note: This story is part of our Faith in Hollywood series. For similar stories, click here.
Former model and founder of Project Inspired Nicole Weider wants to help direct teenage girls to the truths of the Gospel.
Weider is passionate about providing God-centered resources for women moving from childhood into adulthood because of her experience as a young girl in the model industry.
“As soon as I turned 14, believe it or not, and I got my braces off and they started marketing me as a sexy woman, and growing up I was always I felt awkward about my body,” Weider said in a 2015 interview with CBN. “I was very tall and skinny, but as soon as I hit middle school, I actually kind of, I guess you could say, blossomed and my agent was marketing me as older than I was.
“My first big job was modeling for the radio station z100 and I was on a big billboard on the freeway,” Weider recalled. “At first I was so excited but then I was looking at it and the main slogan was ‘There’s no bad date a good song can’t cure,’ insinuating I was going on a date, and then I was listening to the radio, but I was only 14 years old, and so I should have took that as a warning sign but I didn’t.”
Weider continued her career in professional modeling and moved to LA at the age of 16.
“I did this big job, I want to move down to LA and see if I can make it in the big time and so then I moved to LA when I was only 16 and signed with my modeling agent and then it kind of all went, I guess you could say, downhill from there,” she confessed.
At an early age, Weider started modeling swimsuits and lingerie for brands such as Victoria’s Secret. However, as her career took off, Weider felt like her dignity was being stolen.
“My agent, she was booking me for lingerie work and swimsuit catalogs, and on set, I thought it would be some glamorous experience where I was having fun and I was so excited to book these jobs, but then when I was on set wearing just a bra and underwear, I felt completely humiliated and degraded,” Weider said. “Here I was on set with all of these guys and all of these people fixing my bra and my underwear, and it made me feel really ashamed of myself.”
During a shoot for Maxim magazine, Weider knew that she had to leave the industry. But upon leaving, Weider said that she had nowhere to turn.
“I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I didn’t really have a concept of who God was, I didn’t have God in my life at all,” she continued. “So I was making my choices based on what I wanted in the world and what I thought was important for myself and I placed my identity in being a model. When I decided I didn’t want that anymore I was kind of left thinking, ‘What am I supposed to do now'”
However, a 23-year-old Weider gave her life to Christ, and the trajectory of her career and purpose changed forever.
“I gave my life to Christ when I was 23, and it was the best decision I ever made,” Weider said. “After I gave my life to God I felt a renewed sense of hope, and I felt like my dignity was back in my heart. I started journaling about my love for God and my experiences in the modeling industry, and pretty soon after I gave my life to God, He put in my heart a desire to create a website for teenage girls to share pieces of my testimony on there and to be a light to girls and to warn them about the dangers of the Hollywood industry and about the modeling industry.”
As a result, Weider released a book and a website under the same name, “Project Inspired,” to help teenage girls avoid her experiences in the industry and turn to God instead.
“God put it on my heart to reach out to teen girls because, when I was a teenager, that’s when I really started to go downhill, and I didn’t have a positive role model in my life,” she said. “I didn’t know where to turn and so I feel like teenage girls are in a really susceptible time in their life and so I wanted to help…”
“I like to say [that] a Project Inspired life is a woman who is confident in who she is, in who God made her to be, a woman who uses her gifts to glorify God and whatever she chooses to do. In my book I talk about the different spiritual gifts because we all have we all have some and I also talk about you know praying for your enemies instead of you know trying to get back at them and becoming a light to non-believers.
“I believe being a Project Inspired girl encompasses all of these different aspects,” Weider said.
In addition to modeling, Weider also took on some acting roles.
She most recently appeared in SWITCH, a Kairos Prize®-winning script.