Christchurch Girls’ High School

Tēnā koe Angela

I wanted to let you know what our Year 9 and 10 students found especially helpful and valuable, and why we as teachers, Deans and counsellors were so appreciative of the messages you communicated.

Your genuine, authentic and articulate presentation style is also professional and intelligent, infused with your own background industry insight and lived experience. This combination ensured both a level of credibility but also ‘reach’ to our girls as you spoke with them rather than preaching ‘at’ them.

Your videos were particularly arresting, engaging and relevant – and held everyone’s attention. Even the title of your organisation/presentation is catchy and memorable!  Your messages are simple and powerful: think critically; be media savvy; realise the advertising industry is manipulating the way you think and feel; knowledge is power; be empowered. Your visuals supported these messages powerfully as you demonstrated the “before/after” paradigms of Facetune/photoshop – effectively demystifying this so our girls could wake up to the blatant (and usually subtle) ways in which they are being manipulated.

It was particularly constructive to offer alternative narratives to what is flooding through the students’ social media feeds – ideas for alternative posts to friends, tips to be media-smart, ways to turn down the ‘noise’ from advertisers who are there to make you feel “less than”. Thank you for encouraging us to let whānau know about the presentation so they could follow up with a conversation at home; I know many, many mums and dads feel very uncertain as to how they can open a useful discussion in this space.

Thank you so much. You bring huge skills and a beautiful wairua to this important area of learning for our adolescent girls: you are a taonga!!

Ngā mihi arohanui

Julia Field
Head of Guidance
Christchurch Girls’ High School


Kristin School

“Angela spoke to our Year 9 and Year 10 girls and was outstanding.  She held them captive and opened the space for them to critically think about the ways social media and advertising are manipulating images and the impact this has on them.  Angela also gave the girls plenty of food for thought around the way they think about their bodies and the way in which they could do this in a more positive and healthy way.”

Kate Pollard
Assistant Principal – Middle School
Kristin School


Queen Margaret College

“Angela has been invited to Queen Margaret College twice.  She has an innate ability to make meaningful and relevant connections with her audience in all her presentations.  This really powerful engagement means students from Year 7 – 13 and parents come away with clear understanding and strategies on how to take action themselves.  Each time Angela visits we receive a summary of her messages which we circulate to our student and parent communities.  This further supports the learning from her presentations. We would have Angela back in a heartbeat.”

Rena Day
Head of Middle School
Queen Margaret College

From the parent talk:

Hi Angela! Just wanted to say that I was one of the mums at the QMC talk and loved the talk! I really appreciate what you’re doing. I didn’t expect it to hit me so viscerally– all those years living among advertisements and expectations but I had to hold back tears thinking of all the body image trials my friends and I have gone through in our lifetimes. It’s so sad, really, when I think of the incredible number of hours (years?) wasted worrying about looks. It does make me wonder how my life might’ve been different if my friends and I had your talk in middle school! Thanks again for doing what you do and making such a positive change in my daughter’s life!

Parent from QMC

Rototuna Junior High School

“Angela’s presentation was engaging, motivating and inspiring.  Our young teenage girls were hooked from the get-go.   The content was extremely appropriate with a wide range of media used to communicate a powerful message; view media through a critical lens because beauty comes from within.  Angela provided strategies for the girls to try including examples of positive affirmations.  Many of our young ladies came away equipt with new knowledge regarding the beauty industry and how stereotypes are formed through digital manipulation.  I believe this talk would be valuable for all girls of this age group as the messages help them to see that beauty truly is more about your character than your image.”

Rebecca Foster

Hapū Leader, NGOI
Rototuna Junior High School

Rotorua Intermediate

Angela’s Pretty Smart talk was an eye (or mind) opener for the girls in my class and myself.  Angela’s honest, compassionate and often humorous talk took us through the journey of unveiling the truth of how body image is presented to our children and us.

She revealed a lie, one told to us and one we may even tell our selves. This lie bombards us on so many platforms especially marketing and social media.

Angela also revealed the truth, an epiphany. We are all perfect in our uniqueness. We are not what we look like, we are so, so much more.
Kia kaha e hoa

Whaea Jen. Pukaki 3

Rotorua Intermediate

Heretaunga College

Thank you Angela for visiting and sharing your message with our young women. I know from many conversations with students afterwards that they ARE questioning the relentless messages about their appearance that assail them daily, and are beginning to value themselves just the way they are! 💕 We loved having you here – I know the girls were very thoughtful afterwards.
Joanne Charles
Heretaunga College
Year 13 Dean

St Oran’s College

The presentation was very successful. It focused on important issues facing young women today, successfully reinforcing and building on material that our students had been introduced to in our Health programme. Student feedback indicated that they had a much clearer appreciation of the impact media can have on their body image, and also learnt some strategies to combat that impact.

Ngā mihi
Paulene Munn
Leader of Pastoral Care & Senior Dean
St Oran’s College

What students say


Here are some out-takes from Year 9 & 10 girls from St Mary’s (Auckland):
– ‘Not everything you see is real and there is no wrong size.’

– ‘To not always believe what you see on social media and to never change the way you look by using Photoshop and other apps.’
– ‘Don’t comment about how people look in their photos, comment on something nice about what they did.’
– ‘To understand how important self-love is.’
– ‘How media portrays women and how illnesses come from trying to change the way you look in order to make others happy.’
– ‘It was amazing and very interesting.’

Birkdale Intermediate

Hi Angela,

The talk you gave today was very empowering for our girls. I spoke to many of the girls afterwards, they were buzzing and got a lot from it.  Thank you for coming and sharing your time and knowledge with us.
Warm regards

Katrina Bush

Deputy Principal
Birkdale Intermediate School

Mahurangi College

Angela comes armed with a toolkit for our young woman to navigate the world around them with more self-confidence. Placing greater value from the inside out of beauty. She speaks with a beautiful confidence and knowledge highlighting the falsies of the media and highlighting its manipulation. We held two talks, one for the girls at school and a second one for the parents, both loved it and couldn’t believe the lies that made them feel less than perfect. 

It really fascinates and begs the question – why do we believe them when we know that they sell a false narrative. Her endgame isn’t to derail the beauty industry but to raise media savvy, confident girls that are pretty smart. 

I couldn’t recommend the Pretty Smart talk enough, we will be asking Angela to come back and talk to our school every couple of years.

Chelsea de Berry
Mahurangi College.

Mount Albert Grammar

Angela delivered a relevant, informative and powerful presentation to our Junior Girls. She encouraged them to love themselves and each other for their uniqueness rather than constantly comparing themselves to fake images that they are bombarded with through media and social media.

Haana Bovaird
Year 10 Girls’ Dean
Acting Head of Health Department


St Mary’s College

Last year, Pretty Smart was at St. Mary’s College, Auckland talking to the Year 9 cohort. It’s always interesting asking the girls if they’ve ever been teased for how they look (shown in the image). Anyone raising their hand to this question is incredible and I have to resist the urge to race over and hug them for being so courageous – way too uncool for school!

Some feedback’s rolled in from the brilliant Year 9 Dean, Anna McLeod, who did a survey afterwards. Here are a few things the girls learned:

‘Not everything you see is real and there is no wrong size.’

‘To not always believe what you see on social media and to never change the way you look by using Photoshop and other apps.’

‘Don’t comment about how people look in their photos, comment on something nice about what they did.’

‘To understand how important self-love is.’

‘How media portrays women and how illnesses come from trying to change the way you look in order to make others happy.’

‘It was amazing and very interesting.’

A couple of girls asked for more interactivity so that’s a mission for 2019.

St Joseph’s School

“Great information – engaging video clips – current topics  – appropriately pitched for age and school – material made real with personal anecdotes – thank you.”

Maria Lynne 
St Joseph’s Catholic School

The students wrote down a mix of what they thought of the talk and what they will do/not do differently:

[The talk] was telling us that no matter what size, we’re still great no matter what…it doesn’t matter what others think of you, just be yourself – be confident!

‘The one thing I will be, after being present at the Pretty Smart Talk, is to not believing in every single thing I see online and not to be so impressed by models or famous people.’

‘One thing I would do differently is to not always follow what is popular like what is the new trend just do what makes you feel good about yourself.’

‘I liked pretty smart because it makes people understand that their beautiful no matter what.’

‘One thing I will do is to never photoshop any of my photos and be confident with who I really am.’

‘One thing I will do different is to be careful on the internet especially instagram, facebook etc and not change the way I look well I don’t need to because you know I’m like the prettiest person in the world.’

I really liked the pretty smart talk because It made me except myself for who I am. it doesn’t matter what other people say about me, because we are all unique in and different in our own way. It also showed me that you should be happy for who you are.’ 

‘One thing I will do different is to be careful in what I post on social media and not to be so impressed by what models look like because they are probably photoshopped.’

‘I really liked the pretty smart talk because It made me except myself for who I am. it doesn’t matter what other people say about me, because we are all unique in and different in our own way. It also showed me that you should be happy for who you are.’

‘One thing I will change is that I will try to be more honest online, while still not giving away too much personal information away, and not to photoshop/facetune any of my pictures when I feel more confident in posting pictures.’

‘One question I have is why do people have a ‘perfect’ vision of what a woman should look like? And why do they think that in order for a woman to be pretty they all need to have the same face shape/body shape and hair colour to be considered pretty?’


Iona College (& Woodford House)

“Drawing from personal and professional experience, Angela delivered an incredibly powerful and age-appropriate presentation for our Year 9 and 10 students. It was amazing how much knowledge and advice about the media, social media, and body image Angela was able to share, with interesting images, engaging videos and a warm and clear speaking style. This presentation is a must for the wellbeing of girls in their early teens, and we’ll be asking Angela back again in the future.”

David Trousdell
Deputy Principal – Wellbeing and Engagement
Iona College

Takapuna Normal Intermediate School

“Thanks so much, Angela, for inspiring our girls today to be proud of themselves, their uniqueness and to make the most of all of the opportunities they have available to them.  Angela challenged our thinking around advertising and messages we receive every day in our lives and the global community.

Be kind to each other!   Live your best life!”

Ngā mihi nui,

Wendy Sandifer
MEdLead, PGDipLead, BEd, TTC
Principal – Tumuaki
Takapuna Normal Intermediate School

Remuera Intermediate

Pretty was at a mothers & daughters breakfast fundraiser for Remuera Intermediate’s PTA and it was pretty awesome. Here’s the testimony from the amazing organising mamas


Thank you for coming in on Tuesday morning and giving such an entertaining and enlightening presentation on how the media can have such a detrimental effect on girls’ perception of themselves at puberty as well as going forward.

The way you reached out to the girls with images, music and teen speak, all while showing them a way to navigate a world filled with false representations, was incredibly encouraging to me as a mother and to so many of the other mothers (and fathers!) around me. Indeed, the initial feedback we have received on your presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

Through lightening such a complex topic you have made a wonderfully positive impact on so many people.’

Yours sincerely
Catriona McCallum & Jo Wood
Remuera Intermediate School PTA

Wellington Girls College

“Angela’s Pretty Smart presentation was an engaging way to equip our students with the knowledge and confidence to be critical consumers of the beauty industry.  Her body positive message resonated with our students.  Her fast-paced, informative and humorous approach to an issue so important to young people is helping to “raise body warriors, not body worriers.”

Melissa Denzler
Deputy Principal, WGC

PS Wgtn Girls C June 2018 stage
600 girls were listening to the different messages given to women vs men. Neither of these two images has anything to do with health!

Adventure School, Wellington

“We had positive feedback from the kids, teachers and parents who attended. The parents especially thought it very timely.

I asked the girls in my class and they found the prevalence of photoshopping most interesting. Some would like to understand why we can’t just show the people as they actually are, instead of images that have been highly modified.”

Mark Hughes
Lead Teacher, Adventure School, Whitby

The Adventure School arranged for four other local schools to join the talk.

Pretty Smart Adventure School girls
Having a chat with the girls at the end.

French American School

“I learned about Angela through an 8th-grade student who had attended her presentation and was so moved that she asked me to bring Angela to speak to the girls at our school. Her presentation was poignant and powerful. The girls attending left with a better understanding of how the media influences girls’ body image and manipulates people into wanting to spend money on their products to try to obtain the image of beauty they portray. This understanding was very empowering for these students.”

Barri Aji, Middle School Counselor,
French American International School

“I think that the presentation was really inspiring because it tells us young women and young men that looks aren’t everything. You don’t have to change who you are to be accepted. This slideshow was AMAZING and I want every girl to know that they are beautiful, and don’t believe what they see in magazines like Seventeen magazine because that does NOT define beauty.”

Mya McGraw, 14-year-old student,
San Francisco


Ponsonby Intermediate

“A wonderful informative talk! Our girls were challenged to think differently. Angela’s talk opened an honest conversation about the pressures of social media, media and peer pressure. “

Rachel Maitland-Smith, Ponsonby Intermediate, Auckland


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