Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves - Kate T. Parker

Summary: Real beauty isn't about being a certain size, acting a certain way, wearing the right clothes, or having your hair done (or even brushed).  real beauty is about being your authentic self, and owning it.  Kate T. Parker is a professional photographer who finds the real beauty in her subjects, girls age 5 to 18, capturing it for all the world to see in candid and arresting images.

Here are girls who are fierce, funny, adventurous, assertive, loud, creative.  Athletic girls and artsy girls.  Fighters.  Survivors.  Girls at the barre, wrapping up their calloused feet in pointe shoes, girls in their football jerseys, wearing eye black like war paint.  Girls, defiant and proud, showing off their scares, their messy hair, their dirty feet.  Girls curled up on the couch, dashing through the sprinkler, raising their hands, reclaiming their independence in the face of adversity, playing music together, dissolving in fits of laughter, leaping in unison against the sunset.

A catalog of spirit in words and smiles, these photographs inspire--and serve as affirmation of the fact that it's what inside you that counts.  Strong is the New Pretty conveys a powerful message for every girl, for every mother and father of a girl, for every coach or mentor, for everyone in the village that it takes to raise a strong and self-confident person. (Summary from book flap - Image from

My Review:  I found this book on my local library's "Lucky Day" shelf (meaning you can skip the wait list) and it's a good thing too, because as the mother of four girls, with that title, and the above synopsis, there was no way I was walking out of the library without it.  I took it home and spent a rare quiet moment flipping through the stunning photographs, inspiring forewords, and uplifting quotes.  Strong is the New Pretty was everything I hoped it would be and more -- an undeniably beautiful, well-deserved punch in the face to an industry (heck, to a world) that often tries to teach girls that their worth is defined by their cup/pant/lip/butt size or dictate the things they can and can't do.  The book is quite easy to read and is primarily composed of photographs with quotes from the subject of the photo.  On each page, girls of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and ethnicities show us what strong means in spectacular fashion (see a few below).    Some images are thought provoking, some defiant, others silly, but the takeaway is undeniable -- Be your joyful, compassionate, wild and crazy, confident, rough and tumble, strong, determined, creative, courageous, uncontainably authentic self.  Strong is beautiful.

The most telling thing about this book is what happened when I finished reading it.  Feeling rather empowered, and hoping my daughters would take an interest, I set it on the coffee table and walked away.  There it sat in plain sight.  Sure enough, several times in the last week, I have walked into the room and found a different daughter nose-deep in it.  Even my preschooler was entranced.  I haven't decided yet whether I want to have a conversation with them about it, or whether I want to let them absorb the message how they will and form their own takeaways.  For now I'm just letting them marinate in it; the book really does speak for itself.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a girl. Or has one.  Or knows one.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  You're fine.  Unless you're sexist.  Then you realllly should read it.

Photo credit to Gabby DeSantiago, North Denver Tribune.

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