Photographer Poses Young Girls in Ball Gowns and Sporting Equipment to Challenge Gender Stereotypes

Young girls pose among sporting equipment to challenge gender stereotypes.
Young girls pose among sporting equipment to challenge gender stereotypes.(HMP Studios)

Photographer Heather Mitchell said she was inspired to organize the shoot when someone said her daughter was too girly to try out for softball.

Girly girl or tom boy?

A photographer is challenging gender stereotypes and showing the world that girls can have it all by posing her young subjects in gowns, crowns and their favorite sporting equipment.

“It is important for girls to know that there is no box,” Heather Mitchell of HMP Studios told “They can be girly and athletic, artsy and smart. Whatever they dream, they can achieve.”

A young girl in a gown poses with a basketball. - (HMP Studios)

Mitchell explained the idea for this shoot came to her when her own 8-year-old daughter, Paislee, decided to try out for the softball team this year.

Paislee poses in a gown surrounded by softballs. - (HMP Studios)

“One of the moms told me she was not athletic, that she was a girly girl,” she recalled. “I couldn’t sleep that night. All I could think was, why does she have to choose?”

Summer Smith, whose daughter Millie was featured in the photo shoot, said she has been conflicted with a similar sentiment in the past too.

Millie poses in a blue gown surrounded by softballs. - (HMP Studios)

“I’ve had people tell me so many times when they see Millie on the court, ‘She’s too pretty to play ball,’” Smith told “I try and teach Millie because as a young girl she can absolutely do it all. There’s no box she has to stay in.”

Millie poses with a basketball. - (HMP Studios)

She said the photo shoot represents exactly who Millie is: someone who loves cheer, gymnastics, softball and basketball, who also loves reading and make up and playing outside.

“Millie is such wild spirit. She’s sassy and strong but she’s equally as sweet. She marches to the beat of her own drum and she’s so confident in that,” she said. “Children need to have someone cheering them on. They need to feel strong and empowered for exactly who they are.”