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'There is no box': Photographer captures girls as athletes and princesses

TODAY logo TODAY 4/16/2019 Terri Peters

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While chatting with the other moms at her eight-year-old daughter's softball practice recently, Heather Mitchell was hit with the inspiration to create a photo series that shows young girls dressed simultaneously as athletes and princesses.

"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?'"

Mitchell, an Alabama portrait photographer, says during her school days, she "played every sport offered and wore lipstick to every game."

"Our daughters do not have to choose," said Mitchell. "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."

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site

TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site
© HMP Couture Imagery/Heather Miller

After her sleepless night, Mitchell took her daughter, Paislee, into her photography studio and took a few photos of the eight year old dressed in princess dresses and tiaras while posing with softball and basketball gear. After posting the images to her personal Facebook account, she received requests to photograph more girls with the same theme.

The empowering photo sessions sold out, and the high demand has caused Mitchell, who also has a 15-year-old daughter named Ivy, to plan for additional shoots in the coming weeks.

Mitchell's post to her photography Facebook page has gone viral, with nearly 200,000 shares of her photos and simple message: "Because you can do it all."

a pair of feet wearing blue and red shoes: TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site © HMP Couture Imagery/Heather Miller TODAY, product courtesy of merchant site

Mitchell says she hopes the images send a clear message to young girls everywhere.

"I hope that every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box," said Mitchell. "Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them."

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