Review: Strong Is The New Pretty
Diverse portraits of strength
You may or may not have heard of this splendid book by Kate T. Parker. She is a former soccer player, awesome photographer and mom-coach. Her book Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves is a collection of photographs featuring girls between ages 4–18. The premise of the book is what it means to be a strong woman which, in and of itself, is pretty.
Also, this book will look bomb-awesome on any coffee table.
Think a Humans of New York take with just young women and girls doing what they love best: football (yes tackle football) cheer, walking, jumping, running, smiling, laughing and everything in between. Each photo is accompanied by the girl’s name, age and a sentence or two that you can just imagine in a neat “voice-over” kind of way. Parker’s shots have a very on the ground, in-the-moment type of feel as she captures blurred laughter, sprinkler spray and many a girl mid-stride or jump.
They are powerful in their unfiltered portrait of girls in motion and emotion.
The book’s nine chapters focus on the following areas of strength: confidence, wildness, resilience, creativity, determination, kindness, fearlessness, joyfulness and independence. Each chapter is color coded and opens with a paragraph by Parker asking a reflective questions and giving shoutouts to certain portraits.
The real strength of the book is twofold: the diversity of strength portrayed and Parker’s ability to capture the wisdom of girls in only a few sentences and pictures.
The point of the book is that strength doesn’t mean big muscles or trophies. Strength, as defined by the girls within, is the ability to care even when it’s uncool, seek intrinsic joy and not apologize for what you’re passionate about. The world is full of message that pressure us into selective caring or make joy only extrinsic. Not to mention pressuring women into insecurity about their bodies, choices, passions and accomplishments. Ugh.
Whether it’s 11 year old Valeria in leg braces who says, “Don’t let anybody make you feel like you are not wanted or don’t belong. You can do anything.” Or 9 year old Maggie who says, “I am fearless” these are “I am” statements from children who understand that identity and strength don’t have to be angsty or complicated. Less is more to them.
Whether it’s a chronic illness or a high rock wall, a puddle of mud or a skateboard, each portrait captures nuances of the multi-faceted idea of strength.
Second, Parker’s photography captures the insight of children. We’ve been told many times children are wise, say things we least expect and seem to know way more about play, sharing and perseverance than we do. It’s true. Parker captures creativity in smiles and maturity in stares. Each portrait displays a subtle intentionality to the environment and composition of each shot. No two are alike. For when a child stares at you and says, “Who likes perfect anyway? Perfect is boring” — you know you’ve just heard something true.
The pictures and stories in this book really cut through discouragement that women aren’t empowered or aren’t moving forward. Parker proves this is more than true.
I was not paid or endorsed to write this review. It was done simply out of personal enjoyment and for practice at writing reviews.