Nicky’s Picks is a new WWSF column focusing on cultural issues of interest to early-career theater artists curated by Nichole Martinez, research assistant for the WWSF blog and a senior in the USF Performing Arts and Social Justice Program.
A few years ago a photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia, Kate T. Parker, decided to take pictures of her daughters every day and noticed a trend in the photos she took of them. She saw that the strongest and most captivating photos were the ones in which her daughters were truly themselves, which she describes as, “fearless, filthy, silly, confident… and not caring that the camera was there.” Through this series of photos, she hoped to empower her daughters and show them that they are truly beautiful when they are themselves. And from there she developed a campaign that would challenge society’s perceptions and stereotypes about how little girls and women should be seen, and hopefully empower girls and women to embrace their true beauty. This campaign is known as “Strong Is The New Pretty”.
This campaign promotes capturing photos of girls and women as their true selves, whether it be from Kate herself or women taking their own photos of themselves or of other women. This campaign has had such a powerful response not only nationwide, but worldwide over the past few years that Kate has received and taken photos of many more diverse and strong women that will be soon be published in a book with Workman Publishing called, “Strong is the New Pretty” by Spring, 2017.
I personally can’t wait for her book to come out, being a follower of hers for more than a year now, I can tell you that these pictures are so moving. Week after week, Kate posts new pictures for her campaign with a diverse set of models, including her badass daughters who always appear to be stronger with every picture that is taken of them. It feels like I am growing up alongside them, rediscovering that childlike confidence that many people, men and women alike, lose during puberty and throughout their adulthood. I know this loss of confidence is because of weird societal rules that make people feel self-conscious about being “normal”, and for women is particularly caused by ideas about what the gender norms and beauty standards are that women are required to uphold. But honestly, these pictures make you forget about all of the societal ideas about what beauty should be and the stereotypical ideas of who and what girls and women are. These photos make you enter a world where it feels like we have finally reached gender equality.
Kate wants her daughters (but also every woman in the world) to know that “you don’t need to be pretty, perfect or compliant to be loved… (just) be strong, be yourself, be honest and celebrate who you are.” Her message has definitely reached me, and I hope that if you take look through her gallery, it will reach you too.