When another mom made a comment to Alabama photographer Heather Mitchell about her daughter being a “girly girl” and not much of an athlete, well, it didn’t sit well with Mitchell. She slept little that night and returned to her studio with a new vision in mind: a series of photos in which girls can be as athletic and as traditionally “feminine” as they like. Hey, princesses are just as strong as athletes, people (GoT, anyone?).
The stunning portrait photo series that Mitchell then created has gone viral, sparking comments and interest from thousands around the globe. Mitchell posted her work on her professional Facebook account, HMP Couture Imagery, starting with an arresting group shot on April 18. The images are as staggeringly powerful as they are beautiful.
Mitchell spoke with Today about that comment from the other mom that inspired the series of photos. “I couldn’t sleep that night. All I could think was, ‘Why does she have to choose?'”
Mitchell herself rejects the idea that femme and athletic traits can’t be part of the same person. “Our daughters do not have to choose,” asserted Mitchell to Today. “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.”
Mitchell began by photographing her own daughter, the “girly girl,” Paislee, 8. She shot a few pictures of Paislee decked out in tiaras and ballgowns while gripping softball gear. At first, Mitchell only posted the images to her personal social media account — but then requests flooded in for her to do photo shoots with other young women in the same style.
And she did. Until she was flooded with bookings and couldn’t take any more. Comments, by and large, have been astoundingly positive, like these:
“I love these photos and the positive attention they are receiving. I need my picture taken in a cocktail dress on my fork truck. Wouldn’t that be interesting a photo shoot with ladies dressed to the nines doing their jobs…showing we are doing it all.”
“This is so empowering! What a wonderful way to show these girls they can do it all! No need to choose just one path! I love that you have shared these with the world. We all need a little more encouragement like this.”
Aaaand of course there were a few asking why the girls weren’t smiling more:
“Love the concept, but where are the smiles? Their faces should show the joy that they get from being recognized as princesses yet athletes also. Their faces should reflect enthusiasm, energy, confidence, etc. Some of those faces are rather sad.”
Welp, one step at a time, folks, one step at a time. We thought they looked fierce — a far cry from sad. What’s wrong with a world full of fierce inspirational princesses and fierce inspirational athletes? (Hint: Nothing.)