Photographer Represents Young Girls as Athletes and Princesses

We’re in search of uplifting news, so we thought we’d revisit this viral story from last year that proves gender stereotypes are becoming a thing of the past. Many parents believe that young girls and boys shouldn’t have to conform to what society expects them to be. This was the case for mom Heather Mitchell, who was inspired to create a photo series representing her daughter as both a princess and an athlete.

The idea came to Mitchell, a portrait photographer based in Alabama, while talking to the other moms at her daughter Paislee’s softball practice. “One of the moms told me (my daughter) was not athletic—that she was a girly girl,” Mitchell told TODAY Parents in an interview. “I couldn’t sleep that night. All I could think was, ‘Why does she have to choose?'”

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Mitchell, who also has a 15-year-old daughter named Ivy, herself while in school said she “played every sport offered and wore lipstick to every game.” So, she decided to bring Paislee, 8, into her photography studio. She was dressed as a princess, complete with tiaras, but also wore her softball gear. “Our daughters do not have to choose,” Mitchell told TODAY Parents. “My parents taught me that I could be anything I wanted growing up. I didn’t realize until I was much older that everyone is not that blessed.”

Upon posting the images to her personal Facebook account, with the caption, “Because you can do it all,” she received requests from other parents who wanted Mitchell to photograph their girls the same way. The photo sessions quickly sold out and Mitchell had to plan additional sessions. Needless to say her post quickly went viral, with over 205,000 shares, 29,000 reactions and 38,000 comments.

“This reminds me of when I was like 10 going from a beauty pageant straight to my soccer game. My mom always brought up how I threw my $80 something hair up in a pony tail and ran onto the field. These pictures are beautiful,” one woman wrote on the post. Another stated, “These are amazing! I love the concept and the photographer is a true artist; seeing the things that others might not quite see the same way. Girls can do it all, anything they want including all that boys can do. What a beautiful way to start breaking the traditional gender roles. Bravo!”

Mitchell hopes the shoot will help teach young girls they can be feminine and also play sports. “I hope every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box,” she told the outlet. “Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them.”

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