Strong Is The New Pretty: Interview with Kate T. Parker

kate t parker screenshot“My girls know that who they are is just perfect…Their silly, adventurous, frustrated, happy, LOUD, athletic, fierce, funny selves. Being themselves is enough for us. And ultimately, for them, too…that’s the goal, at least.”

Kate T. ParkerYou may be seeing a pattern here, so I’ll just come right out and say it… I love elevating and collaborating with people who are boldly pursuing their passion and courageously disrupting norms—all with a heart for social good.

Now it won’t come as a surprise when I shine the spotlight on photographer Kate T. Parker. You’ve seen her work recently, yes? It’s taken off via social and other media channels. Having worked with Kate, I could not be more thrilled—she’s talented, smart, generous, heart-driven, strong.

I’m honored to share a bit of her story alongside some of her projects that are slightly under the radar…

MB: Since we first connected to share Strong is the New Pretty on Athleta’s blog and digital channels, your work has gone viral. Is it sparking the conversation you had hoped for? Are you seeing any outcomes you had not expected?

KTP: I’ve been completely humbled and entirely grateful for all the attention surrounding this work and how the world is embracing “Strong is the New Pretty” — it’s been a bit awe-inspiring to be honest! It’s particularly emotional for me to see other moms and parents around the world posting images of their daughters with the #StrongIsTheNewPretty.

Strong is the New Pretty

MB: We also joined forces to build awareness and drive volunteerism for Girls on the Run with an emotive visual story showing how GOTR programs impact coaches, volunteers and participants. Being the mom of two girls must have the biggest impact on your drive to empower the next generation of girls, but you’re also an athlete with impressive accomplishments–collegiate soccer, Ironman, CrossFit, etc. How did that play into your work on this campaign? What feelings surfaced when you set out to capture the spirit of Girls on the Run?

KTP: I grew up playing sports and hanging out with athletic, strong, confident girls. My teammates and friends weren’t concerned as much with how they looked as how they played. They didn’t find their worth in how their body looked, rather what it could do. Regardless of whether or not my girls even wanted to play sports, I wanted them to have that same sensibility, that same confidence. We all get these messages to be thin, perfectly groomed, complacent and smiling to be considered beautiful. I simply don’t believe that. The most beautiful girls and women are the ones who are confident to be true to themselves. Girls on the Run’s mission and message perfectly aligns with this. I was so thankful to be able to work on campaign that I 100% completely believed in and felt like I “knew.” My oldest has done GOTR and I loved what I saw in her and cannot say enough about that program. I am honored to be working with them.


POWER UP the next generation of girls by supporting Girls on the Run

MB: Your photo series Blended, documenting the adoption of your nephew, has also captured hearts. Will you be continuing that series? Any new projects in the works that you can share or hint at?

KTP: I am always, always shooting. Just shot some of my adorable nephew last night. I love shooting personal work. I recently finished an essay called What it Means to Be A Girl about a group of 12 year-old girls that compete in an all-boy’s flag football league on Saturdays and head to the southern tradition of cotillion on Sundays. It was so interesting to experience and see the girls in different facets of their lives.

Kate T. Parker Photography

All photos © Kate T. Parker.

SONY DSC Shaping Youth Contributor Michelle Bushneff is the founder of BIGthinkster Lab, a creative agency serving progressive businesses, brands and indie talent seeking to super-charge their marketing mix with authentic, engaging content and social media marketing programs.

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This is Michelle’s first guest post on Shaping Youth, though I featured her “Girls Horse” writing venture way back in 2008 giving a nod to barn goddesses, tweens and her ‘pet project’ in a series I wrote calling out girl empowerment projects in a two-week series of “all things girl.”  Here’s the post, perfect timing for Throwback Thursday!–> Seven Sensational Blogs About Girls