With her athlete princess photos, she wanted to show young girls that they be anything they want
Women are used to being told they need to fit neatly in a box– whether it’s athlete, girly-girl, studious, theatrical, musical, or tomboy — we get labeled from an early age and it’s hard to get people to see you any other way. But one photographer had the idea to combine a girl’s strength and beauty, showing you don’t have to be any one thing.
Heather Mitchell, an Alabama portrait photographer, said she was talking to another mom at a sporting event and something she said about Mitchell’s daughter, Paislee, struck a nerve. “We were at practice a few weeks ago and I was talking with the other moms. I was saying that I hoped Paislee learned to love the game because she was athletic,” Mitchell told Scary Mommy. “One of the moms told me that she was not athletic, that she was a girly girl. I couldn’t sleep that night.”
The mom of two girls (daughter Ivy is 15) said it frustrated her that her daughter, only eight years old, was already being labeled as one thing over another. “All I could think was why does she have to choose?” she said. The professional photographer said the next day she brought Paislee into her studio to create the now viral photo series.
Mitchell said the next day she went to the studio and created Paislee’s shot. The photos were her daughter and some of the girls from the first day of shoots. “I seriously only spent about three minutes shooting because I knew exactly what I wanted,” she said. She shared the photos on her Facebook page, captioning the series, “Because you can do it all.” The results are nothing short of stunning.
Mitchell said she played every sport her school offered and “wore lipstick for every game.” As with any parents of daughters, she not only wants the same options for her daughter, she feels it should be a given. Women can be anything they want to be. We don’t need labels telling us we need to be one way or another — we get to decide what we are going to be — and we can change our minds a hundred times along the way.
Mitchell said once the photographs were posted on social media she received tons of requests for similar photos, so they added two days to their schedule and those sold out within the hour. “So I added two more days and they sold out too,” she said. “I have three more days next month.”
It’s clear from the overwhelmingly positive response that Mitchell’s struck a nerve with people. In these modern times, we shouldn’t have to think about things like this but it seems we still have a long way to go in educating society that girls can be whatever they choose. Women like Mitchell and her photographs are a much-needed reminder.