Arielle Tschinkel
Updated Apr 20, 2019 @ 10:26 am

We’ve come a long way in shattering gender stereotypes in recent years—but unfortunately, we still have a ways to go. All too often we see gendered toys in toy stores, T-shirts that promote strict “masculine/feminine” dichotomies, and messaging that encourages women to fit into absurdly specific boxes in order to feel loved and accepted. Heather Mitchell, an Alabama-based photographer (and mom to two daughters) is over it. She told BoredPanda that she grew frustrated after a fellow mom mentioned that her daughter wasn’t an athlete because she’s a “girly girl.”

Mitchell decided to challenge gender stereotypes by creating a photo series showing girls dressed in princess tiaras and makeup who pose with baseball bats, basketballs, and soccer cleats. She said she hopes that “every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box,” adding, “Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them.”

When she posted them to her Facebook page, the photos went viral, getting thousands of likes, shares, and comments. She says the initial photo shoot sold out, and she has plans to continue the series.

On breaking down those gender stereotypes, Mitchell told TODAY, “Our daughters do not have to choose. 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.”

We’re so inspired by these beautiful shots and—most importantly—the message behind them. We just wish these photos had been around when we were kids.