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Messy, loud and strong; mother's photography series reminds girls they are more than 'pretty'

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There are no tutus, dolls or frilly dresses here. Instead, mother and photographer Kate Parker is fighting old cliches of 'prim and proper' girls, by capturing her daughters in their natural guises.

Whether they're feeling silly, adventurous, frustrated, happy, loud, athletic, fierce or funny, Parker snaps her daughters Ella, 8, and Alice, 5, and their friends in their everyday lives. The result is a refreshing and beautiful collection of photographs that defy stereotypes of young girls.

"They don’t need to have their hair done, clothes matching, or even be clean. We love them as they are, loud, dirty, competitive…just like my parents loved me for being the exact same way," said the mother from Atlanta, USA.

It's with this in mind that Parker's photography series grew into what is now called 'Strong is the new pretty'. 

She began the collection three years ago as a way of practicing her camera work in different lighting and environments as well as capturing her daughters' childhood. But along the way her candid family album became something much more.

“I wanted to celebrate these girls as they are, not how females are expected to be,” Parker told HelloGiggles. “There’s a lot of pressure for girls (and women) to look a certain way, act in certain manner, and I wanted to let my daughters know that who they naturally are is enough...Being pretty or perfect is not important. Being who they are is.”

The powerful album has since gone viral after featuring on CNN on Friday. Take a look at her extraordinary pictures below.

Kate Parker

Parker says her daughters and their friends like to spend a lot of time outdoors and she and her husband encourage this. "On of their favourite games, literally, is jumping in the bushes."

Kate Parker

The above image was captured while Parker's best friend held her under water.

Kate Parker

Parker says, "My best friend and I played soccer together in college and coach together now. I want my girls to be like these girls that I grew up with in college".

The photographer coaches her daughter's football team. When she asked the young players to show their toughest faces, they knew just what to do.

Kate Parker

While learning to skate, Ella and Alice had just pulled off the pillows that were protecting their bottoms, when they slipped and fell (below). "I caught this moment of 'I'm done'. They tried their hardest."

Kate Parker

Parker took this photograph (below) of her daughter Ella the night before she participated in her first triathlon to show her that even though she was nervous and afraid, she is still strong. 

Kate Parker

Parker says, the minivan is "the bane of my existence" but when the family collected their Christmas tree, it was the perfect backdrop for their excitement. She asked her daughters to show her exactly how they felt about their new tree and caught the moment on camera, below.

Kate Parker
Kate Parker

On a typical snow day, Parker's daughters will play under the dining table. 

Kate Parker

When asked how her daughters (pictured with Kate, second below) feel about the photographs, Kate said: "They are pretty ambivalent about it. They don’t care either way if they are on a website, magazine cover as long as they haven’t lost dessert that night or iPad privileges."

Kate Parker

"I love that they don’t really care or put any stock into the images, I just hope it serves as a great reminder one day of their childhood and the amazing and wonderful girls they are.”

Kate Parker

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