Heather Mitchell was standing on the sidelines of her 8-year-old daughter’s softball practice when another parent said something to her that caught her off guard. Mitchell mentioned that her daughter, Paislee, would love to learn the game because she’s so athletic. The other parent disagreed telling Mitchell that her daughter couldn’t be athletic because she was a “girly-girl.”
The comment struck Mitchell as odd, but she didn’t say anything. However, that night she couldn’t sleep thinking about what the other parent had said. Why did her daughter have to fit into a box? She could be both athletic and “girly.”
The next morning Mitchell knew exactly what to do.
Mitchell owns a photo studio in Moulton, Alabama. She and Paislee made their way to the studio with some props that included softballs, bats, and mitts. For wardrobe, she brought a flower crown, softball socks, cleats, and the “girliest” dress she could find.
After ten minutes, Mitchell captured photos with the exact message she wanted to convey: “There is no box,” Mitchell explains. “They can be girly and athletic. Artsy and smart. Whatever they dream they can achieve.” Mitchell wanted her photoshoot to show that girls can be anything.
After sharing the photos online, Mitchell received a flood of requests for similar photos.
It started with one request, then two more, and finally, her entire calendar was packed with photoshoots all with the theme of “girls can be anything”. The photos weren’t only getting attention from other parents, they went viral. The more photos she posted to her HMP Couture Images Facebook page, the more likes, comments, and shares she got!
At first, Mitchell was surprised by the popularity of the photos but soon realized the photos were telling a familiar story. “I played every sport my school offered and wore lipstick to every game,” Michell explained. It’s a dichotomy many girls know well: the cheerleader or the soccer player, the glamour girl or the track star. Mitchell didn’t want her daughters to have to choose between two identities. They can be anything and everything!
Mitchell’s photos and their message really blew up on Facebook.
Mitchell knew her photos had gotten pretty popular, but it wasn’t until she was on vacation in Mexico with her mother that they really took off.
After realizing her photos were getting attention from all around the globe, Mitchell turned to her mom, “I told her Facebook must be broken.”
The stars of the photos, the girls, are excited about all the attention. “I’ve been talking to their moms all weekend,” Mitchell said, “and I think they are all hoping for a call from Ellen.”
Comments from women who recalled “doing it all” poured in.
“This reminds me of when I was like 10 going from a beauty pageant straight to my soccer game,” one woman commented, “My mom always brought up how I threw my $80 hair up in a pony tail and ran onto the field. These pictures are beautiful!”
Another woman added, “This is a great way to show that little girls can do and be so much more than just cute.”
Gender stereotypes need to be confronted and Mitchell’s photos show just how powerful images can be at dismantling them.
Mitchell’s photoshoot helps remind us that there’s so much more to a person than their gender(s) — girls (and boys!) can be anything they want. Girls can get muddy on the field and then change into a pink gown they love. They don’t have to be just one thing. No one does. That’s what makes Mitchell’s photos so compelling. Apart from being beautiful, they’re also tough.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 The next morning Mitchell knew exactly what to do.
- 2 After sharing the photos online, Mitchell received a flood of requests for similar photos.
- 3 Mitchell’s photos and their message really blew up on Facebook.
- 4 Mitchell uploaded the photos with the caption, “Because you can do it all.” It resonated with many women and girls.
- 5 Gender stereotypes need to be confronted and Mitchell’s photos show just how powerful images can be at dismantling them.
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