Jennifer Cassarly Interview

Jennifer Cassarly, a PHD student from the United States, specialises in body image, self-esteem, and is interested in the impact of media on teenagers, in particular traditional media such as magazines, TV and the daily newspapers. She focuses on how teenagers and children are affected by body image and how it passes negative vibes.

In York, Jennifer sets up a challenge for the teenagers, boys and girls. She hands out magazines with negative comments attached and cleverly sets a task for the children to change these negative titles to positive ones!

If you or anyone you know is worried about their body image Jennifer has some advice: Don’t take it to heart and find other ways to talk to people.

Research show that this is not just aimed at girls, but boys are also affected.

Celebrities are a main part in this problem, with their names boldly presented on the headlines of magazines such as Hi, Allure and Woman’s Health. For example: Kylie Jenner ranked third in the Celebrity 100, with an income of 166.5 million U.S. dollars, closely followed by Judy Sheindlin with an income of 147 million. Even she has been bothered by negative publicity.

 I asked Jennifer how she felt about hearing what these young teenagers felt. She answered, “not very surprising, but upsetting: it’s not very surprising because most adults have the same feeling. You feel helpless because you can’t control it”.

Jennifer Cassarly added, “In my opinion these online social media sites should add stronger parental control and raise the age of children who can download/log onto these sites.”

Children who are worried by body image can get involved with a Poster Campaign which is making posters, turning conventional headlines (which might highlight the negative) into positive, life-affirming headlines.

The book Wonder relates to body image and how to control it and how to deal with bullies. It is a recommended book to read if you are feeling less confident than others seem to be.