We hear the phrase “just be yourself” constantly. So often that a lot of the time we don’t even listen anymore. We’ll read an article in a magazine about how to love yourself just as you are and then find a photoshopped model on the next page. Even though we’re living in a time that’s confusingly heavy on both Photoshop and self-acceptance alike, there is a lesson to be learned in that simple saying. And it has been brilliantly demonstrated in Kate T. Parker’s stunning photo series, “Strong is the New Pretty.”

The black-and-white images are focused on the photographer’s two young daughters. She began shooting them simply to capture their childhood memories and practice her photography skills in different lighting situations and environments. But as she continued to shoot the girls and their friends she realized that all the best photos were the ones where the girls weren’t necessarily posing, but just being themselves – adventurous, athletic, angry, messy and all.

The results offer up a Sally Mann-type grittiness combined with a super authentic representation of all the beauty that comes with childhood. You’re not going to find any frilly dresses or awkward staging here. Instead you’ll see the girls playing sports, hanging out in the front yard, running through the the sprinklers — all the same stuff you probably remember doing as a kid.

Parker says, “I wanted to celebrate these girls as they are, not how females are expected to be. I wanted to celebrate them, just as they are, and show them that is enough. Being pretty or perfect is not important. Being who they are is.” Amen to that.

Do you know of any other awesome photo series we should see? Share with us in the comments below.

(Photos via Kate T. Photography)