At just 17 years old, Carrie Berk is a force to be reckoned with. Having authored her first book when she was in the second grade, Berk has gone on to accomplish more than what most people will in their lifetime. As a writer, blogger, and anti-bullying ambassador, there isn’t much that Carrie can’t do. She uses her voice and platform to create empowered change and is a true role-model for Generation Z. Her story inspires, and by the sounds of it, this is just the beginning for this youthful leader.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write your first book.
My writing career began when I was eight years old; at the time, I was studying realistic fiction in school, and–inspired by my love of cupcakes–I came up with an idea for a book about four girls who come together to launch a cupcake club. I was a peer mediator in my elementary school and saw a lot of bullying going on in the yard, which led me to make my heroine, Kylie Carson, someone who is bullied by a mean girl. I thought it was an important issue that I could bring to light. I asked my mom (who is a celebrity ghostwriter) to send her agent the paragraph I wrote outlining the book. While we were on a Disney cruise in the middle of the ocean, she got a call saying that three publishers were interested. I couldn’t believe it! The rest is history: we went on to write Peace, Love & Cupcakes and 11 more books in The Cupcake Club series, then created two more series, Fashion Academy and Ask Emma. Now, at 17 years old, I’m a bestselling author of 21 books, a social media influencer, and a content creator. I feel like everything I do started with my love of writing in second grade, and that passion only continues to grow.
From your experience, what is the biggest issue kids in your age group are facing these days as a result of social media?
Bullying is a huge issue that tweens and teens face today. I myself have experienced it firsthand throughout middle school and high school, and it took a great deal of courage, strength, and belief in myself to get past it. As a result, I’ve become an anti-bullying activist committed to helping kids going through similar struggles. With practically everyone on social media, it’s certainly easier to hide behind a computer or phone screen and hurl hate. I finally realized that the negativity aimed at me was never really about me—it was about the bully. Bullying comes from a place of insecurity; if you don’t like yourself and your life, it’s easy to blame and criticize others. I wish I had an instant solution, but haters are going to hate. I always advise that you ignore it as best you can; if someone says something cruel in a comment, delete and block. It’s never a good idea to engage or clap back–the bully wants to know they’ve gotten to you. Don’t react, and never stoop to their level.
What needs to be done in order to shift this?
Organizations like No Bully (I am a teen ambassador for this groundbreaking non-profit organization) are doing an excellent job educating kids from a young age about bullying. They work with schools to encourage adolescents to practice empathy and respect toward one another, a lesson I believe is just as important as math or English class. The earlier we teach children that being on social media comes with a responsibility, the more they will learn to be positive posters and refrain from cyberbullying. I always feel that if a bully understood what it was like to be on the receiving end of hate, he/she would think twice. Compassion is key.
Generation Z is the first cohort to grow up not knowing a life without social media and this plethora of online platforms. Can you tell us what this is like for you, and what do you do in your day to day life to stay grounded and disconnect from it?
I think that social media is an amazing thing. It‘s a way to connect with people from all around the world and engender a creative platform with the potential to inspire others. I do believe, however, that at certain times, one should disconnect–staring at a screen all day is exhausting! Some ways that I like to unwind sans social media are by going to get a manicure or taking a SoulCycle class!
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today is the day!!! the CARRIE’S CHRONICLES MERCH COLLECTION IS AVAILABLE on www.carrieschronicles.com (link in bio)! ? each of the t-shirts/sweatshirts is inspired by my website, encouraging you to always practice unapologetic individuality. plus, a portion of proceeds go to No Bully. can’t wait to see how you style the clothes and put your own spin on them! make sure to tag me on your pics/vids/Boomerangs wearing the merch so I can repost ? #carrieschronicles
You are a huge advocate for anti-bullying. What is your message for children and teenagers of any age who may be a victim of this?
It gets better. I know it may hurt at the moment, but I promise it will get better, especially if you reach out to people or groups who can help. Tell your parents, a teacher, a coach–anyone you trust–and does not allow the bullying to continue. If you see a friend being bullied, encourage him/her to do the same. No one should suffer in silence. Seek out people who “get you” and appreciate you. True friends don’t try and change you; they celebrate you for who you are.
What kind of initiatives are you seeing in schools and other institutions to prevent this from happening, and is there anything else you feel should be implemented?
I believe that every school should implement a program like No Bully’s (described in an earlier question). We can’t ignore what’s going on; the only way to stop bullying is to encourage empathy, respect, and inclusivity. In that way, we can halt the hate before it has a chance to start.
It can be very helpful for individuals who may be experiencing bullying, to hear the stories of others who have overcome this. What has been your personal experience with this?
At first, I was nervous about telling my story–it was very personal and painful. Now, I’m very open and honest about it; I see how my words can help, heal, and inspire. I speak to a lot of school assemblies and do interviews in the media–I was even recently on a national talk show. I‘ve spoken about how one time, I hid in my closet and cried because I was so upset by the vicious texts someone sent me—the words stung like I had been slapped across the face. I also explain how in middle school, I stopped wearing my favorite pink glitter sneakers and newspaper print joggers so my peers would stop making fun of me. In the end, I decided that being authentic was more important than fitting in. I took a negative experience and channeled it into a positive platform for change. I created a “style empowerment” website (www.carrieschronicles.com) that encourages “unapologetic individuality” and, I hope, makes people want to own who they are–there’s nothing more beautiful than that. Being bullied was hard, but I’m proud to say I’ve found my voice and I’m not afraid to use it.
Who is your biggest role model and source of inspiration?
My mom. Her endless supply of creativity and unconditional love amazes me—I am forever grateful for her company and support.
You are so inspirational and have accomplished so much at such a young age. What can we hope to see next from you?
I hope to be the Editor-in-Chief at a high fashion magazine one day—Anna Wintour is my idol!
To stay inspired by Carrie, follow her on her social media channels:
Facebook: Carrie’s Chronicles
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YouTube: Carrie’s Chronicles