Kate T. Parker recently published a book of images entitled “Strong is the New Pretty” with the message that ‘wild girls should be allowed to be wild’.  Google books describes it as ‘Girls being fearless. Girls being silly. Girls being wild, stubborn, and proud. Girls whose faces are smeared with dirt and lit up with joy. So simple and yet so powerful, Strong Is the New Pretty celebrates, through more than 175 memorable photographs, the strength and spirit of girls being 100% themselves’.

I’ve always questioned the idea of pretty.  I mean, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?  And isn’t beauty more than skin deep?  Poets have been speaking of beauty beyond the outside  appearance for thousands of years and yet, we still have magazine images and celebrity images and portrayals of what others think of beauty being thrown at us.  And we think we have to live up that that image.  It’s almost as if we all deep down know that beauty is something much more than a certain body type or facial features, yet the world cannot stop forcing what they think beauty should look like.

The timing of the movie Beauty and the Beast is perfect for this book being published as they parallel each other.  Belle is a strong young woman, fearless and stubborn.  Her beauty is in her acceptance of the beast, her strength and tenderness to all around her.  That’s why I’ve always loved the story, why it’s my favorite Disney classic.  I picture myself being Belle, a book worm, kind of nerdy, way different than most, and seeing things and people in a much different way than others.  I can picture myself falling in love with an ogre/beast/tyrant of some kind because I could see through to their real heart.  I could see past the outside appearance as rough or awful as it was.  Because isn’t that what beauty is?

The concept that Strong is the New Pretty is so fitting for me personally.  Being strong is beautiful.  Being yourself is beautiful.  Showing the world the real you is beautiful.  Beauty is being your authentic self and owning it. So simple and yet so difficult to do.

As we move forward into 2017, try to remember that there is incredible beauty in imperfection.  I challenge you to be authentic, to be strong, to be confident in who you are and in who you are not.  Because that is beautiful.

With love from Grand Haven,