While chatting with the other moms at her daughter's softball practice, 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, said that 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."
After her sleepless night, Mitchell took her daughter, Paislee, into her photography studio and took a few photos of the 8-year-old dressed in princess dresses and tiaras while posing with softball 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.
Mitchell's post to her photography Facebook page has gone viral, with more than 200,000 shares of her photos and a simple message: "Because you can do it all."
Mitchell said she hopes the images send a clear message to young girls everywhere.
"I hope every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box," she said. "Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them."
This story originally ran on TODAY.com on April 16, 2019.