Does Playing Sports Build Strength, Courage, and Self-Esteem in Girls? Episode 150 Interview with Kate T. Parker
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Do you believe that sports can instill confidence, strength, and self-esteem in girls at a young age and that these same attributes can be used on and off the field? Kate T Parker is a mother, wife, professional photographer and New York Times bestselling author of The Heart of a Boy and Strong is the New Pretty; she's an ironman and former collegiate soccer player who has made a living capturing the joy, confidence, focus, and camaraderie that comes from girls playing sports. Her photographs have been praised by Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, and the Spice Girls.
A powerful collection of color and black-and-white photographs, her newest book PLAY LIKE A GIRL captures girls just learning to kick the ball alongside players from the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald. A celebration of the tenacious spirit of female soccer players of all ages, it reveals how sports, and soccer in particular, challenge girls and women to become their best selves, allowing them to test their limits, find power in friendship, appreciate their body’s strength, and learn how to pick themselves up when they’ve been knocked down.
Kate T. Parker, the Early Years
Kate has played soccer ever since her early years growing up in New Jersey. She continued playing soccer on the collegiate level for Wake Forest University in North Carolina. After leaving college, she worked at CNN and then crossed over into advertising, which Kate believes helped her to "make something compelling on the screen." After getting married and having kids, Kate decided to use this skill to take pictures of her kids.
The Important Role of Confidence and Empowerment in Young Children
As a mom, Kate believes that children should have confidence and self-esteem. She wants this for her kids and thinks these are qualities all kids should have. Kate wants kids to know who they are should be celebrated and embraced. Kate found confidence and empowerment while playing soccer. She remembers being called "loud," "bossy," and “aggressive," all characteristics that made her a good soccer player. Her coaches encouraged this behavior, and it is these qualities that enabled Kate to pursue a successful career as a photographer.
Kate believes it's okay for girls to voice their opinion, get dirty, or even angry at times. Kate believes that it is "more important what you do and who you are than what you look like." Kate thinks that social media does not portray “girls actively doing things.” Her book shows girls and women moving and taking action.
The book captures every expression and emotion the girls go through on and off the field, and they have the chance to tell their own story. “Sometimes their words are funny, but they can also be silly, thoughtful and smart,” according to Kate.
Soccer and Everyday Life
Kate believes you can learn life’s lessons on the soccer field. “In soccer, you cannot hang your head; you must keep looking forward regardless of what has happened in the past. You must keep moving. Kate believes it's the same in real life, “if you mess up in life, don't hang your head, if you do that, you will miss the next play or the next opportunity.”
Kate believes that “all girls should find something that they are passionate about; it doesn't have to be soccer or any particular sport. It could be music or even art, find something you are passionate about, and then your sense of self-worth will come from that passion instead of from any outside forces that are trying to tear you down.”
The importance of role models
Kate believes that all girls should have role models in their lives. The 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team with women such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald, are role models to young girls and women. Young girls need to see women who look like them to achieve success; it improves their self-worth.
Kate T. Parker – Charity Work
Kate believes that anyone with a platform should use it for the benefit of others. Her charities of choice include the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Bully Project, and the Girls on the Run.