Mom helps daughter channel icons, not Disney princesses

Emma poses as Amelia Earhart.
Emma poses as Amelia Earhart.Jaime Moore / Today
By Eun Kyung Kim

Most little girls won’t grow up to be princesses, but they can become doctors, astronauts, and even presidents.

That’s the message photographer Jaime Moore hopes to instill in her daughter, Emma. For the girl’s fifth birthday last month, Moore had her play dress-up in a series of photos emulating five influential — and female — historical figures, not a single fairy-tale princess among them: Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall.

Moore helped her daughter recreate this shot of Jane Goodall.Today

The idea behind the “NOT just a girl” photo album struck Moore after she tried to find inspiration to commemorate her daughter’s birthday. She immediately noticed an explosion of online tutorials offering parents tips for how to dress their girls up as fairy-tale princesses.

“Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Disney Princesses, from their beautiful dresses, perfect hair, gorgeous voices and most with ideal love stories in the mix you can’t help but become entranced with the characters,” Moore wrote on her blog. “But it got me thinking, they’re just characters, a writer’s tale of a princess (most before 1998) … an unrealistic fantasy for most girls (Yay Kate Middleton!).”

Jaime Moore's daughter channels Helen Keller.Jaime Moore / Today

The experience led her to come up with real women her daughter could learn about, emulate and draw inspiration from.

“For me, creating the series felt very powerful,” the Austin, Texas-based photographer told “The very first shoot we did was Amelia Earhart, as I was worried it would be the hardest to capture, yet when I started going through the film I was brought to tears. It was so moving for me to see Emma looking so strong and confident in herself.”

Moore said she chose five women to represent each of her daughter’s five years of life. When she mentioned her idea for the portraits, Emma jumped at the chance.

Jaime Moore's 5-year-old daughter poses as Coco Chanel.Jaime Moore / Today

“We had so much fun picking out the costume pieces and through each woman's portrait, I would tell her about each incredible woman,” Moore recalled.

Earhart seemed to be Emma’s favorite, with Goodall a close second.

“Just the idea of her dressing like the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean thrilled her,” Moore said. “I love her facial expression in the photograph I chose. I took the shot as I was cheering, ‘Emma you just flew a plane, by yourself, over the Ocean!’ In her eyes I see so much pride and confidence. I love seeing that come through an image and it means so much more seeing it in my daughter's eyes.”

Emma as Susan B. Anthony.Jaime Moore / Today

Moore, a wedding and lifestyle photographer, completed the photo shoot in three days, with each portrait session taking only about 15 minutes. Since posting the album last week on her website and studio's Facebook page, she has received a flood of interest and response that has often crashed her website.

“’Wow’ and ‘overwhelming’ are probably the two words I have used the most over the past three days,” she said. “I am extremely thankful and love reading the beautiful messages I have received from hundreds of people all over the world.”