Athlete or Princess? This Mom’s Empowering Photo Series Shows Girls Can Be Both

Girls are so much more than just sugar and spice.

By: Amanda Mushro

Photo by: HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

A conversation with another parent at her daughter’s softball practice got Heather Mitchell thinking about the labels society puts on young girls. It bothered the mom of two daughters so much that she lost sleep at night.

"One of the moms told me (my daughter) was not athletic—that she was a girly girl," Mitchell told TODAY Parents. "I couldn't sleep that night. All I could think was, 'Why does she have to choose?'"

The next day, Mitchell, a professional photographer, shot a photo that illustrated her daughter's ability to do whatever she chooses. The original picture was simple and features her daughter wearing one high heel and one softball cleat. With this image, the Alabama mom wanted to show that her daughter could be “girly” and dress like a princess, and be athletic and play sports. Her message was clear: We’re not accepting anyone’s labels.

Photo by: HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

"It kept playing over and over in my mind," Mitchell told USA TODAY. "Why does she have to choose? She can be anything she wants. She can be a girly-girl, she can be smart, she can play ball and the next day she can choose to do something different."

The photo soon inspired a series that features young girls in beautiful dresses who are also sporting gear from their favorite games. With softball gloves, bats and basketballs, the girls show how multifaceted they truly are.

Photo by: HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

"Because you can do it all," Mitchell captioned the photos.

The photos quickly went viral and parents began sharing their own stories about how their daughters won’t allow labels to define them. Mitchell said she was both shocked and overwhelmed by the response online.

"A lot of the little girls that we photographed are just so proud that they can show off both," said Mitchell. "They get to pick a pretty dress from my studio, put on dirty cleats and wear a princess crown."

Photo by: HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

HMP COUTURE IMAGERY

Mitchell even organized another photoshoot, but this time with a diverse group of girls. One girl featured is undergoing cancer treatment and loves to play softball, while another sport-lover was recently adopted from the foster care system. Of these photos Mitchell says, "I hope that every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box. Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them."

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