Book shows girls embracing inner strength


Courtesy Kate T. Parker

“Strong is the New Pretty” author Kate T. Parker will stop at Athleta, 3415 N. Southport Ave., April 5, as art of her nationwide book tour. 

By Kendrah Villiesse

The idea for photographer Kate T. Parker’s new book, she said, began with noticing her strongest shots were  those of her daughters being silly and wild. 

Wanting to share beauty, free of filters and makeup, the Georgia native said she collected the years worth of images to create “Strong is the New Pretty,” a photo book that celebrates young girls who are comfortable and confident in their own skin.

“I wanted my girls to know that their value came from who they truly were, not something from the outside,” Parker said.

“Strong is the New Pretty,” released March 7, has captured the attention of mothers and daughters around the country, Parker said. She is currently on a book tour and her  Chicago visit on April 5 will take her to Athleta, a women’s fitness clothing and supply store, 3415 N. Southport Ave. 

“We are really excited to have this event, and hopefully girls can come in and check out the book,” said Erin Mctague, assistant manager of the Lakeview Athleta. “The book is really inspiring for girls and we are excited to support young girls into becoming the best versions of themselves.” 

Parker and her book fit in with Athleta’s mission to encourage confident women and girls to reach their full potential, said Kate Flannery, director of the company’s Public Relations and Community. Parker is also featured in Athleta’s ‘Power of She’ campaign, which showcases women coming together to create a social impact, Flannery added. 

As someone who has been training young girls in gymnastics for more than 36 years, Anne Alam, founder of the Gymnastic Factory and a fan of Parker’s, said the book is necessary and timely because of the impact social media can have on girls’ self-esteem and their growth into strong women. 

“With social media today, the kids have to be cookie cutters,” Alam said. “If you look at selfies, girls always have to have their lips pursed up, and they have to have their hands on their hips. Everything is posed and a calculated movement.” 

The internet pressures girls into thinking that images they see are what is considered to be perfect, according to Parker. 

“As an adult you can recognize that [these images] are not real, and perfection does not really exist. I don’t know if young girls can see that,” Parker said. “It is important for girls to see something like this book and see what is beautiful,”  

Echoing Parker’s message, Alam said she has been teaching girls about “Girl Grit,” a phrase she coined that pushes girls to achieve their goals. 

“A ‘Girl Grit’ would be someone [who has] the desire and the perseverance to continue through [the obstacles] they have to go through,” Alam said. “Grit is what gets us up and gets us going everyday, and that is why I love what [Parker] has done because every one of those little girls has grit.”

The book consists of photos Parker has taken around the country of girls of all demographics. 

“I wanted the book to be as diverse as possible, and I wanted any girl that picks it up to be able to see somebody they can relate to,” Parker said. “This is a message that needs repeating, we forget that our power and our strength comes from our unique selves.”