Pretty is as pretty does ...
I'm on the internet a lot talking about being body positive, embracing confidence, and trying to find new role models for myself and other women, and it's rare something hits me with the force that Atlanta photographer Kate T. Parker's "Strong Is The New Pretty" did.
The project is one that's simple on the surface: Kate photographed girls between the ages of 5 and 18 doing the things they love. She captures girls in action, riding bikes, doing flips, playing with their friends, shrieking with delight.
Each portrait is a stunning examination of what makes each girl special, unique, and powerful, and it has nothing to do with trying to look pretty.
Kate was inspired to start the series by chronicling the adventures of her own two little girls. On her website, she says:
"My girls know that who they are is just perfect. The are their silly, adventurous, frustrated, happy, LOUD, athletic, fierce, funny selves.
"Being themselves is enough for us. And ultimately, for them, too ... that’s the goal, at least.
"They don’t need to have their hair done, matched outfits, or even be clean to be loved or accepted.
"We love them as they are, loud, dirty, competitive ... just like my parents loved me for being um, the exact same way. I wanted this series of images to show their boldness, their strength and the beauty in them, as they are.
Strong is the new pretty."
The work Kate has done with these photographs is inspirational, and I mean that, because they've left me feeling empowered and excited at the idea of one day raising a daughter of my own.
Because let's face it, it's not easy having self-esteem and being a girl, and some days being a woman can feel impossible.
These portraits don't just serve as a powerful reminder that we are so much more than what society would have us be just because of the coincidence of our gender. These portraits convey strength, power, enthusiasm, self-love and confidence.
It feels like I've spent so much of my adult life "learning to love myself." These photos remind me that there was a time back before all the bullshit of low self-esteem and self-loathing when I probably did.
I wonder how differently we would all feel about ourselves if we all had such a vivid reminder of the sheer beauty in the strength and passion we took as a given when we were just young girls, back before we started learning that society wanted us to be something very different from what we were.
These portraits are such stunning portraits of love and pride.
Looking at them they might as well each be emblazoned with the text "who you are is enough, and who you are is great, and don't you EVER let anyone tell you differently.'
The girls in our lives need this reminder now more than ever, and I hope the work Kate's done will inspire other mothers to capture their beautiful girls in action as a testimony to their strength and love.