Dear daughter, you’re beautiful, regardless of what the media tells you

Dear daughter,

You’re far too young to be aware of this, but, in the last few days, many people have watched a video of a model being “altered” by photoshop. It shows her artificial transformation from real and attractive to fraudulent and malformed — or, as they call it in the fashion world, “sexy.”

See, nowadays we use computers to “improve” images of real women, which is quite appropriate. After all, computers are manmade creations, just as our modern conception of “beauty” is a manmade creation. Modern “beauty” — or whatever you want to call it — certainly isn’t natural, and it most assuredly doesn’t come from God. It’s manufactured. It’s a product. True beauty, on the other hand, is art. It’s full of life. It’s unique and dynamic and vibrant.

It’s real. It’s you.

Hollywood and the fashion industry have concocted a “beauty” that is separate and apart from reality. What they sell is a marketing ploy. It’s assembly line sexy. It’s about as beautiful as the canned food aisle at Walmart. Those plastic, painted, stick-figures you see on TV and in magazines — they are androids. Half human, half machine. They start out as humans, until computers, camera tricks, filters, and silicone suck out their souls and turn them into size zero Frankensteins.

But that’s the price of living in a culture of consumerism, where we spend every waking minute surrounded by advertisements and product placement. Everyone’s got something to sell, and very few of them are selling anything you need. So, to compensate, the peddlers pull out their shotguns and blow giant holes in your psyche. Then they convince you that they’ve got the perfect thing to plug the gaps. They try to create a void in your conscience, so they can start pouring their poison into it. As far as this strategy goes, constructing an unachievable, inhuman, digitized idea of beauty is the ultimate scam. And it’s paid dividends.

Being rail thin, without blemish, perfectly proportioned and exactly symmetrical — these are superfluous, unattainable and unrealistic goals. But all the media has to do is inject into your head the image of a rail thin, blemish-less, perfectly proportioned, exactly symmetrical (and totally hallucinatory) woman. The allure of this fantasy human is enough to intoxicate and captivate a lot of people. They’ll spend the rest of their lives chasing beauty like a heroin addict chases heaven. What they both want is real, but they’re looking in the wrong places, and eventually the pursuit will destroy them.

When I think of all of this, I’m filled with a certain fear. You’re just a baby right now, but that will change sooner than I’d like it to. Lord, you’re beautiful. I’m telling you: you’re gorgeous. I have you lying here beside me, asleep, as I write this. You have this glow and this grace; it’s impossible to look at you and not smile. Impossible, I guarantee it. And then I think about the predators in the fashion industry and the entertainment industry. And I think about how they’ll try to tell you that you’re not good enough. They’ll try to convince you that you need a thousand pounds of makeup and designer clothing to really look appealing. They’ll try to sell you on the lie that beauty is a competition; that you ought to be constantly measuring your appearance against strangers.

You are a masterpiece, a treasure, a work of art, and they’ll try to persuade you to see yourself as a rough sketch; one that needs to be “edited” and “improved.”

But you’re an angel, daughter, and they are godforsaken liars.

Oh, believe me, so many of us have bought into their deception. Men and women alike, even if we aren’t chasing Hollywood beauty, we still dress ourselves up in some way. We present a façade, in hopes of appealing to the mass collective. It’s gotten worse now with the internet, social media, Reality TV. We feed that beast inside that wants us to care what strangers think of us. Of the entire population of the planet, only an infinitesimal percentage of them will ever be more than anonymous to us. Only the tiniest fraction will ever give us more than a passing glance, but we want even the strangers to feel something about us when they look our way. Feel what? Envy. Admiration. Inferiority. A combination of all three. We certainly can’t allow them to carry on their day feeling better, or more attractive, or smarter, or more successful.

But we gain nothing from living this way. We do everything we can to impress the unknown faces in the crowd, and where does it take us? Those faces are likely immersed in their own self absorbed psychological vacuums, and whatever impression we make on them will evaporate as soon as we leave their line of sight.

This is what’s become of so many of us.

I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. I’ll do whatever it takes to shield you from the parasites who profit from this madness. Whatever it takes. I’ll set the TV on fire if I have to. I’ll probably dance around it while it burns. I’ve always had a TV, but I’m not sure that it’s ever brought anything but lies and false hopes into my living room. Well, that and football. So it isn’t all bad.

I’ll literally put blinders on you when we go to the grocery store so you can’t see the magazines in the checkout aisle.

I’ll move us all into a shack in the wilderness, so that this horrific culture, and the zombies who inhabit it, can’t touch you. I’d rather leave our “civilized” society behind than allow it to take your purity and innocence, and replace it with an eating disorder and a shopping addiction.

Or maybe these drastic measures aren’t necessary. Maybe Mom and I can just hold you close and love you, and maybe that will be enough. And when Dad tells you that you’re beautiful, maybe you’ll always believe him. Maybe it will be enough to make you into the sort of girl who laughs at the idea of spending thousands of dollars to keep up with “fashion trends.” Maybe it will be enough to stop you from ever wanting something as insane as cosmetic surgery. Maybe it will be enough to keep you from starving yourself, like the “supermodels” in the magazines.

I hope so. I pray for this. Remember, Mom and Dad are two of the VERY few people on Earth who will tell you the truth about yourself. The truth that, from your first moments in this world, you’ve been like a vision, full of beauty and light. You don’t need to be “photoshopped,” and you never will. You don’t need a “touch-up” or a “correction.” You were formed by God and given to us as a gift from Paradise. You don’t need to add fad diets, expensive shoes and forty layers of makeup to that. That’s the truth, but few will tell it. You will meet a lot of people, and many of them will want something from you. So they’ll attack your self image, make you vulnerable, and then try to take it.

That’s the game.

Never play it.

I’ll protect you from these forces for as long as I can, but that won’t last forever.

I hope you never need to read this letter. I hope all of these realizations come as second nature to you. But, if ever the time comes when you need a reminder: here it is. Whether it’s 17 years from now, or 25, or 40, or when your Mom and Dad are dead and gone. Here it is. You’re beautiful.




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153 Responses to Dear daughter, you’re beautiful, regardless of what the media tells you

  1. Brenda says:

    Dear Matt, Thank you so much for that poignant, beautiful post. We have two girls ages 8 and 10 and my husband and I agonize and pray daily about how to instill inside them how precious, loved, unique, beautiful and wonderful they are. I am amazed what a battle it is with the messages everywhere bombarding them. We homeschool so these messages aren’t quite as prevalent but they are still present all around them. Recently, I started noticing a neighbor girl jogging up and down our street every day. Her mom recently lost a significant amount of weight and exercises daily. But here’s the heartbreaking part. I asked this girl, “Why are you jogging?” She said, “My mom told me I was getting fat so I needed to exercise and lose weight.” First of all, she is not fat. She is a normal pre-teen with some curves and she is absolutely beautiful. I’m not sure if her mom lost her weight to be healthy, or to feel worthy in the eyes of others or both – but whether she realizes it or not, she is sending a powerful negative message to her daughter about performing and looking good to be worthy. The pain in her daughter’s face broke my heart. It made for a great talk with my daughters about what true beauty is and how we can do our best to encourage this neighbor girl that she is in fact beautiful by any standard because of who she is. My husband and I will continue to fight this battle for the hearts of our quickly growing girls. Our mission is to pound into their heads and hearts just what you said – they are precious, beautiful treasures – fully loved, fully accepted, pricelessly valuable exactly as they are. They were crafted tenderly and personally by the Master Designer. The world doesn’t need them to try to be someone else. The world needs them to fully contribute all their wonderful uniqueness, dreams, passion, intelligence, creativity and true beauty. True beauty which is in the heart – where God fills us with His grace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, love and faithfulness so it can overflow through us to others. That is a truly beautiful thing. Thanks Matt for another truly excellent and emotional post.

    • Samedame says:

      This is a beautiful sentiment, and it is very true. I don’t know if you have a son, but can you write a letter for him? A letter to tell him not to look at the girls around him and compare them to these images? Because they do. From the boys in my high school who would loudly rate passing girls from 1-10 to my friend’s fiancee who wanted her to sign a “no weight gain” prenuptual agreement, I must say that it is not just the media that is hurting women. I doubt that there is a single “average looking” woman who has not been verbally abused at some point by some man for “not being a supermodel.”

      • Karlyne says:

        Tell me that your friend who was asked to sign the pre-nup “no weight gain” didn’t! And that then she used every means at her disposal to expose the selfish, arrogant pig.

      • Hope she made him sign a “no balding, no erectile disfunction, no beer belly” rider!

        • Karlyne says:

          I chuckled at that one! But then I remembered the friend I had a few years ago who was sad because her husband (who had big ears and an even bigger ego) wanted her to lose weight. And when I said, “Whoa! Does he think he’s perfect?”, she responded with another sad, “I guess he is.”
          Rose-colored glasses or just craziness?!?

        • I think of it more as a variant form of Stockholm syndrome. lol

        • Karlyne says:

          I had never thought of it that way! You’re right!

  2. Sedmi says:

    Hi, thank you for putting down so well what was on my mind for so long… I am also writing letters and a diary in form of a blog for my two daughters and I wanted to ask your permission to translate this post to my native Czech language for my blog. I would of course state the source there.

  3. Sedmi says:

    Reblogged this on Sedmikraska and commented:
    Tesat do kamene…

  4. Sheri says:

    Very well written. I just showed my 12 year old daughter the video, you referred to, last night. I felt it was appropriate to also read her this letter and tell her it is everything I wish I could have written to her. I had to stop before I got to the end because I was sobbing. She is so beautiful and confident and still so innocent and it would break my heart if the world stole that away from her. I pray everyday as she skips off to school that God protects her innocence from this world one more day.
    P.S. No t.v. is one of the best parenting decisions we ever made.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. It should be given to all daughters so that they won’t ever feel less than beautiful. There is beauty in every one. I hope to teach my children this. It is scarier now that I have a daughter. I pray that the love and reassurance she will receive from her father and me will be enough to make her see how truly beautiful and wanted she is and always will be.

  6. Mike Robbins says:

    I’m not sure who Matt Walsh thinks he is but he’s definitely a hero in my book.

  7. Our daughters need us to speak more loudly than the twisted culture around them. Thanks for speaking up!

  8. raisincat says:

    Matt maybe someone has already suggested or you’ve heard it but if not listen to “Only One and Only You” on Stephen Curtis Chapman’s latest album, ” The Glorious Unfolding”. Expresses your thoughts – in song. You will love it.

  9. Julia Lee says:

    All my mom and dad ever did was tell me lies, and I believed them. I believed them when they said I was stupid, ugly, and worthless, and that nobody would ever love me. It’s not always the rest of the world that causes a little girl to grow up hating who she is, and seeing someone in the mirror who has absolutely no value to anyone or for anything. It is wonderful that there are parents in the world who love their daughters enough to take care of them, to protect them, and to fight for them, such as yourself and your wife, Mr. Walsh. It’s a shame that many parents in this day and age aren’t as good to their children as they ought to be. Children deserve to be loved, protected, fought for and encouraged for their own talents. Yet too many parents these days are too busy with their own lives, goals and dreams, that they can’t take the time to put their children first. It’s no wonder that parents are younger and younger these days. Morality and personal responsibility/accountability isn’t being taught in the home as it should be. It shouldn’t take a church or a village to raise a child. It should only require a parent actually doing their job. And if you don’t intend on putting your children first, then don’t breed. Do the world a favor and quit polluting the gene pool with your idiocy and selfishness. Otherwise, the only one you can blame when this world goes down the toilet, is yourself, for raising a generation of selfish entitled brats who have no clue what morality, responsibility, respectability, honor, and integrity actually mean.

    • sarah says:

      Hopefully the “gene pool pollution” you’re talking about/to learn from their parents mistakes (and inevitibly their own) and are moral, responsible, respectible, and honorable with enough integrity to stop the cycle that you just perfectly exemplified. I am so sorry that your parents treated you the way they did, but your parents have someone they can blame too. So do their parents. We can all just sit around an blame generation after generation (and the society that we are a part of) for not teaching “morality and personal responsibility/accountability” and for dealing us all a bad hand. We can all be victims. That’s a choice we can make. Maybe we don’t want to anymore.

  10. christy says:

    Thank you for this. Beautiful.

  11. Lauren says:

    This has me in tears! I’m printing it so we can read it to our perfect little one year old beauty someday!! Thank you!!

  12. Stella says:

    This nearly brought me to tears as a woman who has often been insecure about her physical appearance and now as a mother. I’d do anything to shield my daughter from the pain I experienced as a teen and young adult. Thank you.

  13. Traci F says:

    I am a mom of four boys. My oldest two are 17 and 18. I have done my best to instill in them that the models they see on TV or in magazines aren’t real. Their wives will most likely not have those types of figures, especially after having children. I have taught them to respect women. I have prayed for them and their future wives. I want my boys to be godly men, husbands and fathers who respect and love their wives and children, not look at women like pieces of meat. So I appreciate that there are parents who are teaching their daughters that they don’t have to dress scantily to be beautiful. It is hard enough to be a teenage boy with raging hormones without girls intentionally trying to entice them. These poor girls want to be noticed by boys and our society has taught them that the only way to get noticed is through sex appeal and superficial beauty. It is a shame when stores sell outfits for toddlers and young girls that imitate sexy clothing for adults. It is even more of a shame when parents actually buy them for their daughters because they think it is cute. It is not cute. It is going down a slippery slope. So thank you to the parents who teach their daughters about modesty and what true beauty is. I ask the rest of you to please help my boys to view your daughters with respect and not as pieces of meat.
    Matt, I have heard that a father plays a huge role in his daughter’s self esteem. I have heard that girls who feel loved and secure at home, especially by their fathers, make better choices when dating and choosing a husband. Thank you for your article,

    • Karlyne says:

      Thank you, Traci F! I want my adorable, beautiful granddaughters to find husbands who have been raised just like your sons!

  14. What a lovely post. Thank you for writing it. Girls need to know that their fathers adore them just the way they are. I am reminded of a story I read once about a famous actress (who it is doesn’t matter – the story is beautiful) whose father took her to Paris for her 16th birthday and told her that he wanted her first time in Paris to be with a man that would love her forever. Our daughter’s don’t need their father’s to take them to Paris – but they do need to know that he will love her and treat her as a precious treasure forever.

  15. george says:

    Just tonight I had a long overdue conversation with my 16 year old girl. Long overdue because she has been avoiding me, stonewalling me, verbally attacking me when I come anywhere near her, and charging with her horns and attitude out anytime she is with her family. She wanted something from me today and thus she was compelled to have a conversation with me to get it. I patiently waded through all the “you are annoying me I don’t want to talk with you”, and the “I don’t like you one bit because you are annoying”, and the “why can’t you just leave me alone” until we finally got wore out enough to hit the actual problem – my girl doesn’t hate me, she hates herself. Now I remember going through some of this as a teen girl myself – but I don’t remember the complete acid burn of emotions I see her going through right now. She wanted something badly enough that she showed me her ‘proof’ of her self hatred – she has scratched ‘I am fat’ across her stomach as some sort of badge of self loathing. My girl is gorgeous. She is almost 6 foot tall of blonde and blue beauty – with a little baby fat beautifully clinging to her. My girl is talented, funny, self disciplined, and gorgeous but she doesn’t know it. She doesn’t hear the compliments to either her skills and talents in life or to her beauty – all she hears are the voices in her head that tell her she is not good enough. I knew she was struggling with something I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I am actually shocked that she has the degree of self loathing she does. We finally had the conversation I’ve been trying to have for months and she got to go to her friends house and leave the horrible home she lives in for a few hours relief. Now I’m working on getting her some kind of counseling so she can vent to someone that can help instead of hold it in an maybe cause a permanent disfiguration. Being a teen is a difficult trauma to overcome in this day and age – it just seems to get more complicated as we journey forward in this country. There has to be a tipping point when enough is enough and we swing back toward other pursuits – I only hope it is sooner than later.

  16. Anna Stone says:

    “You’ll probably never be as pretty as the girl in the magazine , the girl in the magazine isn’t as pretty as the girl in the magazine. “

  17. Chana says:

    This is wisdom. Word.

  18. Veronica says:

    Sorry, but no daughter ever said “I’m fat…but my dad thinks I’m beautiful.” Do you really want to ensure your daughter’s self esteem? Love your wife and openly express it. Tell your sons and daughters that you think their mother is beautiful.

    If daughters grow up and marry men like their father, they will find men who appreciate them.

    Write something like this to your wife. I, however, somehow doubt you personally find images of silicone and symmetry as offensive as you say it is in comparison to your daughter, but if you want to do something worthy of more than just a simple applause generator, address this to this little girl’s mother.

    • Imzadi says:

      All I can say to this is…what?
      Yes…the relationship between a child’s mother and father shape more than most adults dare to admit …but, the ONLY response you have is to dismiss what was said? Really?
      Oh…and, you obviously have never read Matt’s posts before; if you had, you would realize that he adores his wife…completely and for EVERYTHING she is…

  19. Jennifer says:

    I think the best thing my parents ever did for me when I was young, was get me into martial arts and now that I have my own child, I have done the same for her. My daughter is now 6, is beautiful and kicks some serious ass!. I will also be trying with all my might to keep her thinking she is amazing until the day I die.

    Although we do not share the same political views, I think you are a fantastic writer and this post is wonderful and much appreciated!

  20. Mark says:

    Well said, Matt. My fears exactly for my 2 girls. And the right plan for the years ahead too. I was watching the bible study “33” where there was a foster father who made sure there were four things all his kids knew. The first three I think are key for the fight against world views.

    1. I love you
    2. I will never stop loving you.
    3. I will never leave you.

    Simple but effective if repeated continually.

  21. Sid Avery says:

    Thanks Matt, great positive message that everyone needs to hear.

  22. Christina says:

    Thank you, Matt. I have a 21 and a 15 yr old and both are as beautiful as the day is long. I never failed in telling them that and constantly reminded them that beauty comes from within. As much as I tried, that all changed come Middle School. Unfortunately, it only takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole pie. When our children hit teenage years, we, the parents, become less and less of a source of encouragement. To them, we are biased and uniformed. We don’t know what it’s like out there because, in their eyes, we are old and out of the loop. No matter how many times you try to tell them that you know what it is like, they will never believe you. They prefer to listen to their so-called friends. The only advice I have is don’t stop trying. There will come a day when your daughter will realize you were right, it won’t be for quite a few years, but it will come. Don’t give in to what society deems as cool, or the “thing”. I refuse to give in to the technology (as seen to a teenager) necessities. There are no iPods or cell phones for my teenagers. Internet is and has been a disaster with my teenager, so there is no more of that. I do encourage her to use her imagination to be an individual, her very own person, not a prototype of what society says she should be. So good luck with your beautiful daughter, and know that you are not alone.

  23. Bikbik & Roro says:

    Wonderful post! As a woman, with two daughters myself, I hear you and applaud you. I actually wrote a vaguely related post not too long ago; perhaps if you have time you might care to read it ( Have a blessed, peaceful weekend 🙂

  24. Don Schumacher says:

    Thanks for using your gift in a wonderful way!

  25. blackwatertown says:

    It needed saying and you said it well.

  26. This is beautiful, I only wish that more people would have someone to hear this from!

  27. Sharon says:

    A parents job is to protect and guide a child in the way he /she should go. Do not let outside things sway your children-remove the T.V., computer and all other devices from their sight. Only allow into your home the books you want them to read. Find people who think like you do with children who can be friends with your children. Fill their life with activities that show them how talented and smart they are. Spend time with them and show them how a woman should be treated by a man.

    Every culture has its own concept of beauty. Centuries ago, in China, the women had their feet bound. In Africa, women were made to drink beer to become massively fat and other women inserted huge plates in their lips or ears. Across the ages, women have been tattooed, had their eyebrows shaved off, put metal rings around their necks-the list goes on and on! Show your children this historical stuff as well and tell them that the idea of beauty is only an outward thing and varies from culture to culture and also thru time.

  28. Brenda Lee says:

    Sadly this is all so true. In some Muslim countries woman buy a product to whiten their skin because the men prefer that. The only way things will change is if women will allow it to stop! I do not see this happening any time soon. With Botox, butt lifts, implants, face creams (using a woman in her 30’s to sell it). The shows for teens on TV the girls are young, thin, tons of clothes make it so hard to keep telling our young daughters “These are not what real girls look like!” when our daughters admire these young women. Yet we must keep trying to instill in them how wonderful they are, and no need for sexy selfies, and please leave your clothes on! Men need to take part in this change also, because we need to stop trying to improve for a man.

  29. Vic Christian says:

    Hate to say this – but when I walk into a Walmart there are no “beautiful” people – just different ranges of attractive to unattractive. Very few people are beautiful, and God did not make us that way. Unfortunately many people choose to make themselves even less beautiful by over-eating, eating the wrong foods, drugs, drinking, no exercize etc.

  30. brandy says:

    I’m rocking my 5 month old daughter and reading this. It brought a tear to my eye. Mostly because its so sweet, but also, sadly, because I struggled with body image for 1/3 of my life and I know I’ve got a tough road ahead of me if I’m going to save my daughter from that same fate.

  31. Kurt ONeill says:

    Matt, no need to worry. Just tell your girl every day that she is beautiful, smart, wonderful and that you love her. Then tell her to never depend on anyone else for her own self-worth. Especially any man because all men are just big bags of stupid.

    My daughter is now 21 years old and graduating from college with honors and I have never met a more balanced, centered, intelligent, giving, caring human being in my lifetime.

    • ManOrMonster says:

      Since all men are just big bags of stupid, why should anyone take your advice? Oh, you must be the one exception, since you’re a feminist.

  32. D M Lawrence says:

    Let’s just hope she is in no way a layabout or loser who may need help with, say paying for insurance. then, well can anyone love someone like that?

  33. Shoes Summerfield says:

    As a father to a beautiful little girl, I thank you for writing this post! Yes!

  34. Sid Avery says:

    After creating everything, God considered it all to be ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). This assessment of ‘very good’ included our first woman Eve, who would not have needed a surgeon’s beauty treatment, or Photoshop alterations. In regard to perfection, Hebrews 2:10 says that God made Jesus perfect though suffering.  Therefore, as we aren’t perfect, let us all look to and trust in Jesus, who is perfect, so that we may have life in him.

  35. Sara says:

    That was beautiful.

  36. rebelwife says:

    Reblogged this on Rebel Wife's Blog and commented:
    This is a letter that daughters should not need to read, but for the world we live in today, where reality is often so twisted into something we come to believe in. Women, girls–you are already beautiful. I’ve noticed that, as you get older, whatever is inside you will show on the outside even more, so start on the inside. Let love and God shine out of you.

  37. Sr_Lisa says:

    Reblogged this on nunspeak and commented:
    Early one morning I made my way to the Parish to meet with our 8th grade girls’ Bible study group. Sixteen of our students from Annunciation School were there, not in their school uniforms, but dressed in their personal best. It was picture day. My last words to the girls as they gathered up their things to go to class, “Remember girls, your real beauty lies inside of you. Let it shine through!”

    How many of our girls today need to hear this message that they are more than what society sells them? The Church teaches all is made by “the author of beauty” (CCC 2500, Wisdom 13:3). Yet because of sin that good is often distorted, seeking something not created by God, but is of human origin.

    Matt Walsh does an excellent job unpacking this theme, addressing his post to his very young daughter. It is a message we all should compose to the girls in our lives that we love and have concern for. I share his post here, hoping it will reach the ears of all the lovely girls and young women I know (you know who you are!). Let us take to heart the words of Saint Paul to the Philippians (4:8):

    “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

  38. Gypczi says:

    Reblogged this on Simple Gypsies and commented:
    Nicely said.

  39. submommy says:

    Your daughter will learn her true beauty when you teach her that she can, with her mind and heart and soul, create real beauty in the world where there is none. Teach her to feed, clothe, and show her love to people others in this culture are too busy admiring themselves to see. This sense of purpose for her life will make the noise around her easier to ignore.

  40. Hector G says:

    This is beautiful, Matt. Thank you! An immediate share :D…

  41. sarah says:

    why are you making your daughter into a victim?

  42. Thank you for this…I will definitely share it with my 11 year old daughter. She is aspiring to be a model and future Miss America…I am forever telling her to follow her dreams, but without all the make-up. Just be yourself and people will love you. 🙂

  43. Awesome blog. Thanks. I shared it with my Curvy Girl Lingerie page. As I like to say “Stop Buying What the Media is Selling” there is a whole army of people working daily to help women hate themselves and I am personally SICK of it. Thanks for writing from your heart. Your love for our daughter and family is very clear.

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