Strong is the new pretty

Ferris State Art Gallery introduces new exhibit

Kate Parker, the photographer behind the gallery “Strong is the New Pretty,” says her inspiration for the project came from photos of her two daughters. Photo by: Andrea Cordes | Torch Photographer

Kate Parker, a professional photographer, is changing the way we define beauty in her new exhibit at the FSU Art Gallery. 

Wednesday, Jan. 18, marks the opening of the new exhibit, “Strong is the New Pretty,” a photo series of women and girls of all ages exemplifying beauty in unconventional and untraditional ways.

“I think everyone should come to the gallery and experience this exhibit. It is an especially critical time, given our current social climate, it is a message that is so very relevant and one that needs to be shared,” said FSU Art Gallery director Carrie Weis Stermer.

Parker’s project has also inspired partnerships with Athleta, Kellogg’s and the Oxygen television network as well as organizations such as Girls on the Run and The Bully Project, which focus on health and education in young girls.

“Personal strength and personal power are the only qualities that a woman needs to be truly beautiful,” Stermer said. “Real beauty does not exist in hair extensions and body enhancements. Real beauty exists when a woman is confident, secure and strong.”

The inspiration for “Strong is the New Pretty” came from Parker’s daughters, who are 11 and eight years old, and constant subjects of her photography.

“I was shooting them every day and noticed the images that were strongest and most meaningful to me were the ones where the girls were allowed to be themselves, whatever that was,” Parker said.

Additionally, Parker’s photo series has also been published into a book that is also titled “Strong is the New Pretty.”

“The photographs in this exhibit show us the faces of confidence, the faces of young women who are beautiful for the strong, separate individuals that they are,” Stermer said. “We need to be reminded of this. It is critical that we are reminded of this.”

The exhibit will be available for students and community members to view until March 31.

“Young women need to be reminded to keep a tight hold to their true self and not allow insecurity to creep in because of the messages bombarding them in popular culture,” Stermer said.

For more information about the exhibit, visit