Kate T. Parker's photo series started out as just Kate being a mom, taking pictures to capture moments in her daughters' lives as they grew up.
But when she stepped back and looked at the photos all together, it struck her that she had a full series.
In an interview, she told TODAY, "I suddenly realized, wow, all of my strongest images are of my girls just being themselves — their freckled, emotional, sometimes dirty, messy selves."
She called the series "Strong is the New Pretty." It shows her daughters, Ella, 9 and Alice, 6, as fiercely independent and strong young women.
Kate was a photographer and mother, but she'd also been athletic her whole life. Her daughters also showed a tendency toward sports, staying active and exploring the outdoors.
“I grew up playing sports, and the girls I emulated were the girls that were really strong and confident,” she says. “They didn’t have the time to worry about how they looked, and so I came to understand that their worth was determined by something different, something stronger.”
“This kind of girl — who has dirt on her shoes and doesn't want to put a bow in her hair — she's beautiful, too," she says.
It's not that Kate has any problems with girls who are more traditionally feminine. She explains, “There’s been a misconception with the images, sometimes, especially when people don’t read the accompanying text."
“My kids are this, you know? Athletic and strong and dirty and loud and crazy," she adds. "That’s what I’m trying to celebrate. But I encourage everyone to document their own kids the way they see them.”
Kate hopes that as her daughters grow up and start to feel the pressures of being a woman in our society, these photos will help them to remember their own fearlessness.