Editor’s Note: Kate T. Parker is a New York Times bestselling author/photographer of four books, including “Strong Is the New Pretty,” “The Heart of a Boy,” “Play Like a Girl” and the “Strong Is the New Pretty: A Guided Journal for Girls.” She has been photographing the lives of girls since 2006. She lives with her two girls, husband and golden retrievers in Atlanta.
When US Sen. Kamala Harris of California was elected as the next vice president of the United States, girls all over the country saw someone like themselves elected to the second-highest office in the country for the first time.
CNN asked photographer Kate T. Parker, who has been photographing the lives of girls since 2006, to interview some of her past and new subjects so they could share how they felt about Kamala Harris’ barrier-breaking election.
“They see someone just like them,” said Parker, who took these pictures the week after Election Day. “They see someone who is female, a child of immigrants, Black, South Asian and biracial – just like them.”
“They see someone who is determined and hardworking, someone who has to demand to be heard, just like them,” she said. “They see what is possible for her and what that means for them.
“The collective dreams of a generation of girls just got a lot bigger.”
Here are the words of 15 girls across the Atlanta metropolitan area who spoke to Parker, who always interviews girls using only their first names. Their conversations have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kamalia, age 15: She’s a woman, and we’ve never had a woman in that office before. It gives a lot of hope to me and other girls who don’t really see representation that much in the highest offices of the US. I hope that in the future women benefit from this.
Kamala is like me in that she is Jamaican. She’s a woman and a woman of color and represents girls like me – which I don’t see a lot of. I like how passionate she is about issues, and I like how she has made mistakes in the past but she’s apologized for them.
Abby, age 13: I thought it was really cool (to have her win) after having a history of only men in the role, and knowing also that less than 100 years ago women barely had any rights. I read that women couldn’t even run the Boston Marathon or vote back then, and I think it’s so cool that now we have a woman vice president who is the second highest position in the country, especially a woman of color. She doesn’t let anyone get in her way or slow her down or interrupt her. She stands up for herself, and I try to do that, too. She’s super empowering.
Alice, age 12: It’s just so good that Kamala was elected vice president. There has never been a woman as vice president before, and also she’s African American and Indian and that’s never happened before, either.
She’s like me in that we are both strong-willed, and also she wants to get things done and that is how I am, too. She also just seems nice. When she was talking to (Vice President Mike) Pence in the debate and said “I’m speaking” when he was trying to talk over her, I liked that because it breaks the stereotype that women are weak. We’re not.
Becca, age 14: I was super excited when Kamala won the vice presidency. I was jumping all over my house, and my sister thought I was crazy. My family is Indian, my parents came from India, and I thought it was great that she’s Indian but also African American as well. She’s a mix of two.
I thought it was really empowering that she’s the first woman vice president with a mix of diversity and ethnicity, and I was really happy about that. I hope that our country will be more open to ideas with a person like that in the White House.
I am very bold and confident, and I love to talk. I think that Kamala is, too. She loves to be bold and say her thoughts, and I love that about her because I am the same way.
Abigail, age 9: At first I didn’t know who Kamala Harris was, then I watched her speech and noticed she was a woman of color. I liked that she’s half Asian because I am Asian, too. She seems like she will be a good vice president because she’s a woman.
Daniela, age 12: It’s really inspiring to other girls and women in our country because in the whole history of our country, there has never been a woman president or vice president. For her to be the first one – she’s leading lots of girls to pursue their dreams. I am like her in that we are both persistent, and we are both biracial.
Siyona, 14: Kamala is South Asian, and so am I. That is so cool. I feel like I don’t see a lot of South Asian women represented, and to have one this high-profile is awesome. Little girls always hear you can do anything, but now they can actually see it. Now that it’s actually happening, girls feel like, “I can actually do this.”
Helen, age 16: Knowing that someone is in the White House who is someone who is actually Black, it feels like we finally have someone on our side. Kamala is like me in that she’s a first generation-er and I am, too. Both of my parents are from Cameroon. We both have immigrant mothers who taught us both perseverance and that hard work is important. We are more similar than I expected, and to know that she’s in the White House makes me feel like I can do anything I put my mind to.
Ella, age 15: I thought it was unique and awesome that a woman – and a woman of color, no less – is in the office of a very important role. She’s a role model for me and makes me feel like the things I might want to do or try feel much more in reach. It gives me hope for our future, which I didn’t have a ton of before she was elected. Kamala is like me in that we are both determined women who want to break stereotypes of what people think we can do or act or say.
Bella, age 9: I knew that if Joe Biden was elected I would be happy because Kamala Harris is Indian American and my parents are from India. It’s nice to see someone who looks like me as vice president. She has black hair just like me. I liked when she said that she was going to be the first female vice president but she’s not going to be the last.
Caroline, age 12: I thought it was really cool when Kamala was elected vice president and that she is now a role model. I love that she has a voice and isn’t afraid to use her voice. When she was speaking after she was elected, I really felt inspired by her words.
Emeril, age 19: Kamala Harris as the first Black woman VP is amazing. For little girls and women out there, she is a great example of women rising up and demanding their voice be heard and not backing down to an ancient system that says a woman’s voice does not matter. She is like me because she stays true to who she is, and also because of the amount of strength she has to persevere through all the negativity and other challenges that have come, and continue to come, her way.
Mariana, age 16: I think Kamala being vice president is a big step for the country since she’s the first woman vice president we’ve ever had. It’s a huge step for minorities all across America and women in politics to show that we are capable and we are ready. I see myself in her since I am also biracial, and representation matters.
Norah, age 7: I was really happy when Kamala was elected vice president. She is the first girl vice president. She’s like me, since I care about people, and she does, too. I care about Black people and she does, too. I am running for president of my bus. I care about everyone, and I think I should win, too.
Taylor, age 12: I feel like there are a lot of changes for the better now that Kamala has been elected. It shows that women have been breaking ceilings in business and law and sports but never politics. Now that we have a woman in power, that can influence so many people, which is kind of amazing.
She’s like me because she likes to be an inspiration for people younger than her and she likes to be a great person, like me, who wants to change our country. There are a lot of changes to our country that people can make. I went to a lot of BLM (Black Lives Matter) allies and maybe to other people that may seem small, but to me it made a big difference.