Powerful New Photo Shoot Reminds Us That Girls Really Can 'Do It All'

A young girl sits posed around softballs in a blue dress.
HMP Couture Images/Facebook

Several weeks ago, photographer Heather Mitchell was at a softball practice for her 8-year-old daughter when another parent said something that took her by surprise. It happened while Mitchell was standing on the sidelines, sharing that she hoped her daughter Paislee learned to love the game because she was so athletic. That's when another mom countered, saying that Paislee wasn't athletic -- she was a "girly girl." That brief, almost forgettable moment kept Mitchell up all night, thinking about what it meant. Why were the two mutually exclusive? Couldn't her daughter be both athletic and girly?

  • The next day, she got up and knew right away what she needed to do.

    Along with her daughter Paislee, Mitchell headed to her Moulton, Alabama, studio -- and brought with her a flower crown, a pair of cleats, some softballs, and a "girly" dress. In less than 10 minutes, she captured a series of striking photos with one powerful message:

    "There is no box," Mitchell tells CafeMom. "They can be girly and athletic. Artsy and smart. Whatever they dream they can achieve."

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  • Shortly after snapping the photos and sharing them to Facebook, Mitchell received several other requests for similar photo shoots.

    So she began scheduling more photo shoots. And then some more. Until suddenly, her calendar was packed. 

    Soon after, Mitchell shared them to her Facebook page, HMP Couture Imagery, where they are going viral.

    But their instant popularity is perhaps no surprise; the simple yet empowering photo shoot theme is one that appeals to a lot of young girls who find themselves wedged between two worlds. The ballerina and the soccer star; the "tomboy" who loves playing dress-up.

    It's a dichotomy Mitchell herself knows well.

    "I played every sport my school offered and wore lipstick to every game," she explains, adding that she didn't understand why her own daughter would have to choose between two identities.

  • Since the photos were first shared on Facebook, they've racked up thousands of likes and shares, as well as comments from across the globe.

    Mitchell herself was shocked by the outpouring of support, and says that when she first saw the post was going viral, it was while she was on vacation in Mexico with her mom. 

    "I told her Facebook must be broken," she quips.

    The models whose photos are now being shared at record speeds are also pretty psyched by all the attention. 

    "I’ve been talking to their moms all weekend," Mitchell tells CafeMom, "and I think they are all hoping for a call from Ellen."

    (Honestly, Ellen Degeneres better give these ladies a call. They deserve it!)

  • Mitchell shared the photos along with one simple, bold caption: "Because you can do it all." And it's been stirring up emotion in women everywhere.

    "This reminds me of when I was like 10 going from a beauty pageant straight to my soccer game," wrote one user. "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!"

    "This is a great way to show that little girls can do and be so much more than just cute," wrote another.

  • At a point in time when shattering gender stereotypes is still a work in progress, it's beautiful to see images like this elicit so much applause. 

    HMP Couture Images/Facebook

    Because truly, why is it so hard for us to envision a world where girls can be running through the mud on a football field but also love to wear pink? The rigid boxes and labels thrust upon kids from the second they're born have got to go. As Mitchell reminds us, they shouldn't have to choose -- and neither should we.