“Strong is the new pretty”

Somehow I missed the release of Kate T. Parker’s book, “Strong is the new pretty” last March. The photographer traveled the country talking to girls about what makes them feel strong, and taking pictures. The results is an insightful photo essay book. Parker was interviewed by CNN about her motivations for producing the work. Here are some of the highlights:

Wild girls should be allowed to be wild. Introspective girls should be allowed to be quiet. Funny girls should be allowed to be funny. Girls who are all these things should be all these things and should be allowed to find out who and what they are without boundaries……..

Even today, girls are told that they should be quiet and sit down to allow space for the boys to take charge. That makes me so angry. I want our girls to know that who they are, just as they are, is enough.

Too often, our strength is taught or discouraged out of us as we grow up, but it’s like a muscle that needs exercise. The more you use it, the easier and more natural it becomes — even if you have to start by pretending. While on the journey — you can do this even as an adult — start small by trying things you normally wouldn’t and go from there.

I hope that this message grows. I hope girls and women believe — and retain that belief — that they are amazing and strong and powerful. I hope our government hears this, and I hope my daughters and their daughters don’t have to keep fighting this same fight.

And the key:

Women and girls are strong. That’s not new. But convincing them that their strength has value and is worth expressing is something that can take some work.

Beauty and power and strength come from being confident in your own worth, but it’s a message that bears repeating. While every generation of girls is dealing with similar stereotypes, this generation of young girls are facing new pressures from the internet and social media to look, act and be perfect. No one is happy all the time, that no one’s life is perfect, and we are all just in this together trying to figure it all out.