This photographer captures girls as athletes and princesses

Photographer Heather Mitchell once had a conversation at her daughter's softball practice in Alabama that made her come to an important realization — that young girls shouldn't have to choose between being an athlete or dressing up as a princess.

At one point of the exchange, a mother had told Mitchell that her daughter "was not athletic — that she was a girly girl."

"I couldn't sleep that night," Mitchell recalled on Today. "All I could think about was, 'Why does she have to choose?'" 

The next day, Mitchell took her daughter, Paislee, to her studio and took photos of the 8-year-old wearing princess dresses and tiaras while posing with softball gear. After sharing the images on Facebook, Mitchell was flooded with requests from other parents, who asked her if she could do the same for their children as well. \\

The photographer, who grew up playing every available sport and wore lipstick to every game, said she had hoped the images would send a clear message to girls everywhere. 

"Our daughters do not have to choose," she explained. "My parents taught me that I could be anything I wanted growing up. I didn't realize it until I was much older that everyone is not that blessed."

Mitchell's photos of her daughter have since gone viral — the posts, which share a caption that reads, "because you can do it all," have altogether been shared 192,000 times. 

"I hope that every little girl that sees this series can see that there is no box," Mitchell said. "Whatever their dreams are, they can achieve them."

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