Mom’s Photography Series On Girls Showing “Strong Is The New Pretty”

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Do you remember a time in your life when you didn’t care two hoots about your appearance and you just lived life? If you’re anything like the ladies at GTHQ, it’s hard to remember. There’s a good chance it only happened in your youth, until the media, society and life pressures starting mounting and you got sucked in the vortex of “beauty obsession”. Yep, we know, it’s hard to escape. And with many studies showing that a girl’s identity and views on the world are starting to be formed at a very young age, it is no wonder the desire to diet, to lose weight and even develop eating disorders happens to girls in their tweens and teens.

One awesome woman is looking to reclaim that sense of awesomeness and empowerment free from unrealistic pressures in girls, by starting in her own home. Kate Parker is a photographer based in Atlanta, and has two daughters of her own. In a recently launched photography series titled ‘Strong Is The New Pretty’, Kate wants to teach her girls, as well as many others, that “You don’t need to be pretty, perfect or compliant to be loved.”

“You won’t see any dolls or pink tutus in this heartwarming, energetic series that beautifully showcases what it means to be a girl now. Parker, a photographer based in Atlanta, Ga., turned her lens on her daughters as a way to encourage them to escape the stereotypes imposed on young girls and celebrate their strengths and interests. Parker’s message to her daughters, aged 5 and 8, is ‘be strong, be yourself, be honest and celebrate who you are’,” writes Mary Alice Stepenson in the Huffington Post about the series.

Unlike the messages girls start to hear from a young age, Kate wants to encourage girls to be loud, be leaders and embrace their athletic side.

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“I was never made to feel like I needed to be ‘girly’ to be loved or accepted, and I wanted to impart that empowering feeling to my girls by encouraging strength, confidence, kindness as well as toughness,” she said.

The idea for the series started roughly 3 years ago when Kate would take photos of her girls to expand her knowledge of lighting and composition in photography. And in using her daughters as subjects, she didn’t want to take the typical sugar-coated images of girls in pink frills and bows. She wanted to capture their real essence, warts and all.

“I didn’t want to shoot pictures like that. I didn’t want girls to think they had to look like that. Whoever they were, however they were, was worthy of an image. Whatever they were was good enough,” she told CNN.

It was also about capturing that time in a child’s life before the pressures of the world start to increase and the carefree attitudes get lost in the mix.

“I want to capture them before they lose that sense of ‘I’m so awesome.’ I wanted them to keep that as long as they could. I started to shoot with that in mind, but it was already there.”

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Kate wants to inspire many more girls to be themselves, and that whoever they are is OK. Her own daughters Ella and Alice are 9 and 6 respectively, and they are in that prime age group where gender roles and stereotypes start to play a huge part in the future careers they choose, based on the dominant messages and images they see in society and the media.

A video campaign be Verizon released in June 2o14 emphasized to parents that they need to be conscious of the way they speak to their girls. “Don’t just tell them they’re pretty, teach them they are pretty brilliant” said the video.

Verizon had a specific focus on engaging more girls to get interested in the STEM subjects (science, tech, engineering and math) but the underlying message is the same: the way we raise our children impacts how they view themselves and what they think is possible for them based on gender.

If more girls get the message from an early age that it’s ok to be messy, it’s ok to be bossy and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play sports instead of with Barbies, perhaps there would be less fear holding girls back from achieving what they want because of their gender.

As a former college athlete, Kate is passionate about encouraging females to “be themselves and own their power”.  She hopes that her photography can show what powerful, unique individuals her daughters are in order to inspire others to do the same.

“It is important for girls to know their strength and know their voice.” Amen to that! You can see all the images on her website by clicking here, or check out our faves below:

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