Arts & Entertainment

‘Strong is the New Pretty’ Author Talks About Childhood in Westfield and the Future of Young Girls

ec995e3db358f297e381_d581f9712595572a6bac_Parker_Kate_author_photo.jpg
Author Kate Parker will sign books and host a speech at Poe Yoga on Friday, June 2. Credits: Kate Parker
af01feaf13d1fdf1e3f2_Strong_is_the_New_Pretty_-_2D.jpg
Parker photographed more than 100 girls across the country to create "Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves." Credits: Kate Parker
16c72bcf9911bcdb7bc4_unnamed__4_.jpg
Parker during her years in Westfield. Credits: Kate Parker
ec995e3db358f297e381_d581f9712595572a6bac_Parker_Kate_author_photo.jpg

WESTFIELD, NJ – When Kate Parker envisions the future, she hopes to see strong young girls who are confident in themselves, she said.

Parker is the author of “Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls being Themselves,” a book full of photos of girls and quotes about what makes them strong, beautiful, confident and powerful. The Westfield native will be in town on Friday, June 2, to hold a talk, book signing and photo session at Poe Yoga.

Her book was inspired by her two young daughters; Ella, age 11, and Alice, age 8.

Sign Up for E-News

“I was photographing them every day and noticed that the images that were strongest and most meaningful to me were the ones where the girls were being themselves, whatever that was at the moment: dirty, feisty, silly, sassy, angry, funny, loud, and louder,” Parker said. “They didn’t need to pose a certain way, or smile for the camera, or brush their hair to be beautiful. I wanted my girls to know that those images that captured their true personalities showed their beauty. And the images turned into a tool I could use to combat the messages the media often sends to girls and women — that beauty is a particular hairstyle, size or outfit.”

Parker is a true New Jersey native. She lived in Westfield until she was in first grade, when her family moved to Millington. After Millington, they moved to Gillette, then Tewksbury, before she moved to North Carolina to attend Wake Forest University, where she played soccer. 

“I loved living in Westfield,” Parker said. “I loved being able to walk to McKinley School with a big group of friends and neighbors, getting candy at Prospector’s, shopping for soccer gear at the Leader Store and birthday celebrations at the Jolly Trolley.”

Currently, Parker lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughters.

“I am so excited to come back.” Parker said. “I am definitely planning to visit our old house and get pizza at Ferraro’s.”

As a wife, mother, athlete and professional photographer (both personally and commercially), Parker is undoubtedly a strong woman in her own right. But she didn’t learn true strength until she traveled the country for “Strong is the New Pretty,” photographing hundreds of girls with different backgrounds and stories, she said.

“As the project grew, I learned that strength doesn’t always come in one package, and it doesn’t always manifest itself the way it does in my girls,” Parker said. “Strength isn’t always loud and feisty. Strength can be in the face of a musician creating music because it is inside of her. Strength can be changing tables in the lunchroom because your ‘friends’ weren’t actually your friends. Strength can be meeting a cancer diagnosis with unrelenting positivity. Throughout the making of this book, I was and continue to be so inspired by the girls and young women who are featured between its covers.”

The girls featured in the book are athletes, sisters, soldiers, artists and friends, among others who have accomplished great feats. Parker was especially impressed with Aris, a 16-year-old pilot.

“She knew what she wanted to do at 13, took lessons, studied and has already flown solo,” Parker said.  “I commend her drive, follow-through and ability to let nothing stand in her way.” 

Parker hopes to create another book similar to “Strong Is the New Pretty,” and said she’ll never stop shooting for this project.

“These girls are the faces of a new generation of women who don’t need someone to tell them that ‘it is what is inside that counts,’ because they already know it,” Parker said.

As today’s girls grow older, Parker hopes they continue to use their strength like a muscle that needs exercise. The more girls use their strength, the easier and more natural it will become, she said.

“Your value as a female doesn’t reside with how you look," Parker said. “As a mother with two young girls growing up in this age of filters, Snapchat, Instagram and Photoshopped everything, the message needs to be heard more than ever. The pressure that young women feel these days is new. The internet brings it to an entirely new level. I just wanted to provide a place, a message and images that celebrated girls for who they really are. I wanted girls to know that was enough.”

Parker looks forward to meeting and connecting with girls across the country. She’ll hold a speech and book signing at Poe Yoga at 128 Elm St. in Downtown Westfield on Friday, June 2, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_a06540d90fee040ea766_storymakers_june

Wed, June 20, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Story Makers

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, June 20, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

The Masterwork Chorus Launches 19th Summer Sing ...

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_5805f638cda07d25a384_pool_openings_2018

Sat, June 23, 12:00 PM

Rushmore Pool, Plainfield

Pool Openings: Rushmore

Community Calendar Sports

Local at-risk youth celebrate year of achievements at Community Access Unlimited

June 18, 2018

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) last night celebrated the achievements of a number of at-risk youth who are members of the agency's Transitional Opportunities Program (TOP). Each of these youth are within New Jersey's child services system and faced a number of life challenges before coming to CAU and TOP and since then have made significant progress in plotting a brighter future with ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...