A letter to my daughters.

Dear L.E. and McRae,

You don’t read my blog.

That’s OK, you’re only 10 and 7. You’d find it pretty boring.

Someday you will though. Someday you’ll do some sort of hologram search on Google and read this is.

So though I will certainly write you words on paper, it struck me that in 13 years of writing online, I’d never left a letter for you in the one place it might actually survive. (Last Thursday’s post was about you too.)

Sometimes it feels like you’re little kids but other days it feels like you’re on the edge of becoming teenagers. It’s only a matter of time until I put too much peanut butter on your sandwich and you laugh/cry to me in the kitchen. Those days are coming.

Last summer I met some teenagers at a camp I spoke at that are already where you are headed. I asked them what they were afraid of. I asked thousands of them that one question as part of my speech.

About 90% of the girls said the same thing.

What they feared most was that they were fat. They feared they were ugly. They feared they weren’t pretty.

Why did they feel this way? I think there are a lot of reasons but one of them is that pop culture tells them that.

For instance, yesterday I saw this headline on the Huffington Post:

Part 1

This is the cover.

part 2

That is the model.

This is what it means to be “plus size” in our world right now and I fear self image will not be better by the time you are old enough to know what that phrase means. That girl would have been considered skinny in the world of Marilyn Monroe.

This is the world I am sending you out to. Did they just do that headline as a way to garner controversy and increase web traffic? Maybe, but let’s not pretend for a second that second guessing 13 year olds who see stuff like this factor in the nuances of web traffic when they judge themselves.

Someday L.E. and McRae you will not feel pretty. Or skinny. Or other words you wish you felt, but know this, I love you.

That doesn’t have a size, that just is.

Don’t let the world define beautiful.

Just be it.

Don’t ask for permission.

Don’t seek approval.

Don’t compare yourselves.

Don’t doubt you are beautiful.

I love you.


  • LarryTheDeuce
    Posted at 04:23h, 30 October Reply

    What a beautiful letter to your girls, Jon. I think, no I know, you will be heavily invested in their lives. That will be so important in combatting what you talk about here. It will help them feel more secure than many girls. I look forward to hearing how they turn out as they grow up.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 06:57h, 30 October Reply

      Thanks Larry!

  • Joey E
    Posted at 04:46h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you for this. I plan to print it and talk about it with my 12-year-old daughter. She and I have been having some great talks, working through “Preparing for Adolescence.” We’ve already had a talk about beauty / appearance, but this will be a solid reinforcement.

    • Beth
      Posted at 13:48h, 30 October Reply

      What if you wrote your daughter a letter from your heart to her having been inspired from this? As a young girl, I know I would’ve held it close to my heart if I had received something like this written by my own dad. I encourage you to write your own words from your heart to your little girl.

  • Suzanne
    Posted at 05:07h, 30 October Reply

    This is beautiful. It’s a tough battle parents face to combat the messages kids are hearing these days. My 6 year old neice told me a little while ago that I’m not pretty because I don’t wear make up – that was mortifying (partly because I was wearing make-up at the time!). She’s 6 and I have no idea where she got that idea to equate make-up with beauty because she isn’t in an environment that would encourage it so it’s evident how children pick up on the tiniest little subtleties – and that’s really scary. And heartbreaking.

    I love the promise this shows that you will speak truth into their lives and work to not let them succumb to those beliefs.

  • Aubrey Bailey
    Posted at 07:20h, 30 October Reply

    Shared this on Facebook. Awesome post. Our kids are 7, 8 and 10 (two oldest are girls). I grew up with horrible body image issues and fight every day to prevent them for my girls!

  • Woah!
    Posted at 07:25h, 30 October Reply

    Having a dad who loved me was a very powerful weapon against self doubt in my teenage years. I’m not sure why, but my sense of worth was very based in what my dad thought about me, taught me, told me during that time in my life. What dads say to daughters and the way they speak about other women to daughters is powerful. Stay involved, dads. Have conversations about real value and worth. Shower praise on your girl – for the great things God put in her, for way she treats others. Teach your daughters to be brave and kind and selfless – and show them how to fight monsters, because they are going to need that skill, and because our world needs more heroes.

    • Sanjay
      Posted at 09:18h, 30 October Reply

      This comment is really encouraging to me as a new father thank you.

    • Daniel Tomlinson
      Posted at 10:13h, 30 October Reply

      That was a wonderful reply Woah! LOL Thank you!

  • zechariah
    Posted at 07:57h, 30 October Reply

    Great post. Have your read Strong Fathers Strong Daughters? Great book, just reminded me of it with your post. I have two girls as well 9 months and 5 years old. It breaks my heart that the world is so physically focused on young ladies. Great heart towards your girls Jon.

  • Katie
    Posted at 07:59h, 30 October Reply

    Beautiful letter, Jon. I have a beautiful (inside and out) little 4 (almost 5) year old girl and, although it’s a ways off, I am dreading adolescence (which I know will come all too soon).

    Our culture is not kind to teenage girls. However, we, as parents, can be catalysts for change by empowering our daughters and showing them that they are more than their outwards appearance. By helping them to not buy into what society and pop culture say they should be. It won’t be easy, I know. We can’t shield our daughters from the world, but we can love them and, hopefully, that love will help them to hold strong to the beautiful girls they are inside.

  • Tiffany
    Posted at 08:20h, 30 October Reply

    This is why I throw away the random Vogue magazines that have been randomly coming to our house. My six year old found the first one and didn’t want to put it down. It is NOT the only definition of beauty.

    Great letter Jon.

  • Sara
    Posted at 08:22h, 30 October Reply

    As someone who has written on being called ugly and fat at about their ages, and the fact it still carries to this day as a 32 year old woman, thank you for speaking love into your daughters. As someone who was told by her own grandmother to “go ride the fat off” it’s such a breath of fresh air to read a father say this to his daughters for all to see, and that they can come back to over and over again.

    Thank you for loving your daughters the way you do, and giving some love to those who still harbor the wounds.

  • Corie Clark
    Posted at 08:23h, 30 October Reply

    You’re on the right track Jon! My dad ways made sure that I knew I was beautiful. He would tell me he loved me or that I was so pretty for no reason at all. And it worked. Sure I have feelings once in a while of wishing something was different on my body but it never lasts. I owe my confidence to my dad!

  • Justin
    Posted at 08:24h, 30 October Reply

    With my first kid, a 9 month old playing at my house right now, I worry about this all the time. Beautifully worded Jon. I am learning this dad thing still, and my ultimate goal (as impossible as it seems) is to make sure my daughter, no matter what she grows up to be knows that she is by far the most beautiful thing I see just like her momma…

    Thanks for posting this today.

  • Lauren
    Posted at 08:26h, 30 October Reply

    Love it! Wish girls didn’t have to deal with the self doubt. It’s terrible thing to go thru.

  • Steve Taylor
    Posted at 08:27h, 30 October Reply

    As the father of 2 girls (3 1/2 & 2), this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night.

    I just try to show them unconditional love as much as possible.

    I have a feeling that it’s only goong to be worse when they get to be the same age as your girls.

  • Jamie Lapeyrolerie
    Posted at 08:30h, 30 October Reply

    Beautiful letter!!

  • Jennifer Sims
    Posted at 08:31h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you for writing this letter to your daughters, Jon. Not enough girls hear this from anyone in their lives. I never heard this from my father and reading this letter made me realize that it is okay to be who I am and not to worry about what others think.

  • Brad Blackman
    Posted at 08:31h, 30 October Reply

    My daughter is almost 5. I don’t have long until she starts thinking these same thoughts. I’m already trying to instill in her a sense of self-worth, that she is beautiful no matter what anyone says, and that I will always love her no matter what she does, where she goes.

    • Daniel Tomlinson
      Posted at 10:18h, 30 October Reply

      Hey dude! Just read your reply. You rock dad Brad! lol

  • Jameson Reynolds
    Posted at 08:33h, 30 October Reply

    As a father of two-daughters this was good stuff. We get kind of numb to pop-culture when we are constantly surrounded by this, but your post was kind of welcomed shock to the system. After reading this I plan on writing my daughters similar notes as well.

  • Sharon Ciraulo
    Posted at 08:34h, 30 October Reply

    Girls need to know they are beautiful from their dads first. When they grow up, it will help them know in their hearts that God made them beautiful and that they are lovely on the inside and out.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 08:35h, 30 October Reply

    When our daughters ask, “How do you like my outfit, daddy?” my husband always responds, “You make that outfit look beautiful, honey!” 🙂

    When one of our daughters was 5, she very sincerely asked me to clip off her nostrils with the nail clippers so her nose would look like the Bratz Dolls noses (they did NOT own a Bratz Doll, but were still influenced by the fad). I went on and on to her about those poor Bratz Dolls and that we needed to pray that Jesus would give them the grace and strength to deal with their disability since they didn’t have nostrils AT ALL and couldn’t even blow their noses or sneeze or anything. I told her we shouldn’t discriminate just because their noses were deformed. Yes, I Jesus-juked the Bratz Doll conversation. It was the only thing that came to mind in the moment. And she never asked me to clip off her nostrils again. (We’ve had similar situations about poor, frail Barbie too.) My kids will most likely need therapy someday….

  • Angie
    Posted at 08:35h, 30 October Reply

    That a was beautiful.
    Made this plus size girl cry.

  • Courtney Ashburn
    Posted at 08:40h, 30 October Reply

    What a gift to them. Love your girls.

  • Indy Ink
    Posted at 08:40h, 30 October Reply

    For those who struggle to tell your teenagers about the fakery in Photoshopped magazine spreads, or for those who struggle to see it and how it affects our self esteem, I built this. http://www.pinterest.com/indyink/dont-compare-yourself-to-celebrities/

    • John Roark
      Posted at 11:24h, 30 October Reply

      The last few years of my mom’s life , she was paralized living in a Nursing Home. Mom looked like Mary Tylor Moore when she was in her 30’s. Half of her body was frozen because of the stoke, now 70 . She was hard to understand , my brother would share a cigerette with her and she looked like the poster telling us not to smoke. But she was most beautiful those last few years. We seen her strengths, her humor and a beauty that only those that knew her could understand.
      My 23 year old daughter when she was 3 walked up to a very old and withered lady in a restaurant and said to her , ” You’re beautiful ” . We all redefine beauty at differant stages of our life.

  • Laurie Zeigler
    Posted at 08:42h, 30 October Reply

    It was my father who taught me how to be an individual. How to think for myself. How to form my own opinions and speak up when they were important enough to voice. How to compete on my own terms, especially if I felt my efforts to succeed would not likely be noticed by others. How to overcome obstacles. How to right wrongs when possible. How to be content. Yes, he taught me how to be content. He taught me, successfully, how to define beauty differently. To all the great fathers out there, your girls are listening . . . . Watching . . . .

  • Becky
    Posted at 08:44h, 30 October Reply

    Beautifully written. Your daughters can come back and read this when the world gets the better of them. So much love.

  • Alex MacArthur
    Posted at 08:47h, 30 October Reply

    Awesome! Just awesome.

  • Joanne Viola
    Posted at 08:54h, 30 October Reply

    Beautifully written. You did your daughters, every woman & every young girl a huge favor today! I thank you!!!!

  • Brooke
    Posted at 09:03h, 30 October Reply

    Ahhhhh Jon! It’s funny how many of your posts bring tears and clarity to thousands of us! Thank you for this! This was perfect for today!!

  • James Williams
    Posted at 09:03h, 30 October Reply

    Jon, thanks for this.

  • Gina
    Posted at 09:06h, 30 October Reply

    Oh how wonderful this is. I, too, am plus size (by the worlds standard). I only have one child – a son. I hope to instill in him on what a beautiful girl really is – I know he will shape his idea of a true woman from me. I am grateful that my husband only has eyes for me – our son will learn that from his daddy. I hope that I am providing a good path for my future daughter in law in showing my son what we, as women, really are…..

  • Justin Stortz
    Posted at 09:15h, 30 October Reply

    I have one daughter and three sons. I worry about my sweet girl way more than the boys.

    The culture hammers so hard on girls. I saw it even in the 4th grade girls in my classroom. It makes me sick.

    As dads, we are the ones that make it for them. If fathers aren’t telling their daughters that they are beautiful and lovely, then who will?

    – @newfirewithin

    • Emily from Reaching Beyond My Reach
      Posted at 13:46h, 30 October Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Justin. I just don’t get how a dad COULDN’T want to instill those things in his daughter. Keep being one of those dads who DOES want to instill value, beauty, and self-worth in his daughters, and maybe others will catch on!

  • Rachel F
    Posted at 09:32h, 30 October Reply

    Reading this letter to your daughters touched my heart. As a young 20-something, I strongly believe that it is my dad who I can thank for the confidence that I have. He told me that he thought I was pretty as a girl, as teenager and even now. Maybe most importantly now. He also taught me that beauty isn’t what defines me. Character, strength, and and intelligence are also a part of who I am. This is not to say I didn’t have days that I doubted my Dad, but at the end of the day, his voice stands out the loudest. God bless you as you raise your daughters, Jon!

  • Megan
    Posted at 09:32h, 30 October Reply

    Thanks for that! On the flip side, my husband and I hope to instill that value in our 7 year old son regarding the women he surrounds himself with in the future.

  • The World Why Web
    Posted at 09:40h, 30 October Reply

    Great letter Jon.

    I have one daughter in college and one is a senior in high school, and I am still wondering where the time went. We only have a short time to mold and shape the lives of our children while they are at home. It is a constant battle against the world.

    Through their high school years I kept telling them basically that the coolness of high school won’t even matter after you leave. I try to encourage them to be themselves and not get caught up in all the hype.

    My daughter in college fully understands now and probably sees high shcoolers as kids, even though she has only been gone a couple of years. Wait till it has been 25 years, not only do they look like kids, but they could be your kid!

    Now I have the coolness of college to deal with.

    Hey! The people in the cubicle next to you don’t care who you were in college, they just want to use your tape and stapler!!!!!!!!!!

  • Carla
    Posted at 09:41h, 30 October Reply

    Bravo Jon! It’s so important to let your children know that you love them for who they are, not what they look like. The truth is outward appearances will change, but true beauty does not rely fully on the outside. True beauty comes from within, and that will stay with the person forever. Thank you for this post. This is going to have a great effect!

  • Katie Cline
    Posted at 09:46h, 30 October Reply

    Amazing! Never stop telling them that! Thanks for putting in the work to be a great dad.

  • Alice
    Posted at 09:49h, 30 October Reply

    Love it. Young women need to hear this early, often, and forever.

  • Scott
    Posted at 09:56h, 30 October Reply

    Bravo Dad!

  • Kyle
    Posted at 10:05h, 30 October Reply

    I have two young daughters, and my wife and I have the same concern. Our culture is already shaping them to value external beauty above all else. Way to go. Wonderful letter to your girls, Jon.

  • Jamie
    Posted at 10:14h, 30 October Reply

    This is beautiful. The thing that makes it more beautiful is the fact that it’s coming from a male – a father – a husband. Thanks for encouraging young ladies and more importantly, thanks for a being a great example for other men/fathers/husbands.

  • Tami Fenton
    Posted at 10:19h, 30 October Reply

    I am the mother of a an almost 18 year old. This one hits me in the gut. I have tried to instill this in her since she was 3. She is stunningly beautiful, and the world sometimes makes her feel ugly still. But she knows her true beauty is within. Moms and Dads, please keep telling your daughters this, and that you love them! It can’t be said enough.

  • Karena
    Posted at 10:21h, 30 October Reply

    You’re such a good man! Love always holds back the mirror of beauty.

  • Daniel Tomlinson
    Posted at 10:24h, 30 October Reply

    I am a plus size man. I’m trying to show my daughter that though all of us want to be attractive, unconditional love from the Father is where our focus should be.

    Thank you Jon.

  • Robert Wright
    Posted at 10:25h, 30 October Reply

    Our girls need to hear this message, over and over and over… starting at a *very* young age. Thanks for saying it, and saying it so succinctly.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 11:10h, 30 October Reply

      Thanks Robert!

  • Sarah Hubbell
    Posted at 10:40h, 30 October Reply

    I can not understate the importance of this message. Of a dad heaping praise on his daughters. DO tell them they are beautiful, often. Tell them they are smart and kind and creative too, but make sure they know you think they are beautiful as well. My dad, (and my mom) though I loved him, failed in this area. It had some major repercussions, some of which I still deal with today at 36. I knew I was smart, they made sure of that, but it didn’t matter sometimes. Keep doing what you’re doing, Jon.

  • John Roark
    Posted at 10:58h, 30 October Reply

    We have 7 daughters, 3,6,9,15,19,21,23. Nice letter, I’m sure your girls will cherish your letters more as time goes by. Because of your letter I am going to try to share with our girls more letters to them using stories of the bilble that God wrote these for their benefit and maybe try to craft how the stories were created to help forge their character. Maybe I could share how it is easy to give when everyone has an abundance but could they be like a little boy who brought some fish and bread and everyone else had nothing. How easy would it be to share when what you have has no significance to the need at hand. Was this written for my girls ? Maybe

  • doug
    Posted at 11:00h, 30 October Reply

    Great letter Jon!

    My daughter turns 7 weeks old tomorrow. When I look at the things pop culture pushes on girls I realize things are easy for us right now; eat, sleep, poop, repeat (or poop while eating….or while sleeping…or while pooping).

    However when I’m sitting and holding her, I look at her and worry about the things she’ll have to face. How skimpy are clothes going to be 15 years from now? How much more sexualized will we be? Saving money for college feels easy compared to the job of sending her out into the world knowing that she’s loved, and her appearance doesn’t play into that.

  • Ashlee Maddy
    Posted at 11:02h, 30 October Reply

    This is beautifully written, Jon! As someone who has struggled with eating disorders and low self-esteem since I was 13 — more than half of my life — I can’t stress how encouraging it is to read this letter. I lost a lot of years of my life terrified I wasn’t pretty enough, or if I could just lose 5 more pounds, then I’d be thin, but it was never enough. It is so important for young girls to realize that they’re worth isn’t defined by what the world deems beautiful, they’re all royalty — daughters of the most high King. Girls hearing such positive messages, especially from their dad, will safeguard their minds from everything society tells them. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 11:09h, 30 October Reply

      You’re so right, it’s easy to lose years of life to fear.

  • Crissy
    Posted at 11:04h, 30 October Reply

    This was the best thing I’ve read all week. Thanks for being such an incredible Dad.

    You rock.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 11:08h, 30 October Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement Crissy!

  • Rachel Bodine
    Posted at 11:11h, 30 October Reply

    Ya’ know Jon…. I try to keep a tough girl image here at work (because i’m so intimidating right?)…but it’s really hard when I end up crying at my desk!

    Every girl needs to here this from their dad. So important. Good job.

  • Phebe
    Posted at 11:13h, 30 October Reply

    Dammit. You made me cry. I have 2 daughters. And a son. I grew up in a critical environment. Then I was adopted by a wonderful loving family. Having seen both sides of the spectrum and knowing the deep insecurity I have and do struggle with, I want to hug you for the love you are giving your daughters. And I grieve with you for the world we are sending our daughters into. Sometimes when my kids are hardheaded I thank God for that. I hope it helps protect their very beautiful and individual minds and hearts out in the cruel world. I pray that as parents, we will fill our kids so full of love and the knowledge of who they are in Christ that nothing can sabotage them. Thank you.

  • Jo Laine
    Posted at 11:21h, 30 October Reply

    Well said. My prayer for my daughter all during her growing up, was that she have confidence in herself and who she is in Christ. She is the strongest woman I know.

  • Brian
    Posted at 11:34h, 30 October Reply

    Wow Jon! As a parent of a 1 year old Daughter, and someone who realizes how fast time goes, thank you for writing this. We need to let our kids know they are loved, prized, beautiful. I also have an 11 year old Son, even though this is aimed at girls, much of this could be used for him too. I am constantly reminding him of his value both to me and to God.

  • Megan
    Posted at 11:36h, 30 October Reply

    I have 2 teen daughters. With the fashion industry stating that anything over a size 6 is “plus size”, their doubts come easily about how they look.
    I try daily to remind them where their true beauty and value come from!

  • Jason
    Posted at 11:39h, 30 October Reply

    Dude! NSFW! I have 2 daughters too (6 and 2) and now I’m fighting back tears!

    Nice post though…Thank y ou.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 13:21h, 30 October Reply

      Ha! Might be the only NSFW thing I’ve written.

  • Sabrina
    Posted at 11:39h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you so much for saying those words. As a 24 year old female, I have definitely felt the pressure to look a certain way or be a certain size and the only thing that has kept me grounded is my personal relationship with Jesus. Even then, though, I sometimes get caught up by the numbers on the scale and the size of my jeans. “Don’t let the world define beautiful. Just be it,” and “Don’t ask permission.”— Those words are packed with so much truth. If women could just realize that they really do have the right to define beauty for themselves, ladies everywhere would experience freedom like they might not have ever before.

    Way to be an awesome Dad.

  • Jenn
    Posted at 11:49h, 30 October Reply

    That is really a wonderful letter to your girls Jon. As a youth pastor I hear the “I’m not pretty” fear a lot. Even when the girls don’t vocalize it, you can often see it in their eyes or hear it in their voice when they try to deflect a compliment.

    And young girls aren’t the only ones who struggle with this. I became angry when I saw the full cover of that magazine and the “plus-sized” model on it. What is plus sized now, size 10!? That’s absurd! In order to be considered “thin” many if not most women would have to remove bones necessary to their bodies – like hips and ribs. Probably the saddest part of all this is that despite her obvious thinness (that woman is NOT plus-sized), she was probably airbrushed quite a bit to remove anything the magazine would’ve deemed as “unsightly”.

    Who ever that model is, I hope and pray that she knows how beautiful she is.

  • Tshanina @ Thrifty T's Treasures
    Posted at 12:03h, 30 October Reply

    Well said, Jon! Every girl (whether a teenager or in college) needs to read this!

  • Jacob
    Posted at 12:13h, 30 October Reply

    As I read this, my wife is due in 2 weeks with our first child, a girl. I have kept a running diary that I plan to give her in the future. This has inspired me to write a similar entry for her. You don’t know me but you’ve inspired conversations and connections that I will have with her. If we all start having these discussions with our children now, the world will be a much better place for them.

  • jessica
    Posted at 12:13h, 30 October Reply

    That is a beautiful letter to your girls. They will need that as they grow up. How you treat your children def has an impact in the person they become and how they view themself. Society has an impact that is no doubt ,we see magazines and tv tell us that to be beautiful you need to fit into a certain mold,its completely absurd. I know first had the negative self image that results from.that alone. My father has never once told me im beautiful and at times I wish he had , instead chose to call me names and make me.feel like I wasnt good enough. They might only be words but when.coming from.a parent they def leave a lasting effect. A simple I love you or your beautiful prob would have saved me from struggling with low self esteem and body image disorders that I struggle.with everyday! CHOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY when talking to your kids sometimes.its the.negative that sticks with them!

  • Amanda
    Posted at 12:14h, 30 October Reply

    I loved this letter. It’s scary how easily our image of beauty is shaped by the media and the world around us. And scary how early that starts these days.

    I was once babysitting a four year old girl, who had the most adorable curly hair. At one point that night, she crawled over to the corner of the room, picked up a hair brush, and started tugging hard on her hair. She told me that she pulled hard on her hair everyday so it would become straight one day. It broke my heart into a thousand pieces. She was FOUR years old!

  • Daniel Bryan
    Posted at 12:31h, 30 October Reply

    Wow John. I love your letter. I have a 15 month old daughter who is the cutest baby in the world. It makes me so mad how much women are looked at in sexual ways today. Left and right women are used to sell things or as objects of desire. I am sick of the sin in me that leads me to view women in just physical ways. I hope, I pray that I can be a massive voice in my Christy’s life telling her I love her no matter what she looks like physically. She is and will always be beautiful.

  • Vic
    Posted at 12:33h, 30 October Reply

    I would just like to point out that this applies to boys as well. Perhaps even more so.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 13:21h, 30 October Reply

      I think boys need to hear truth like this too, but I would argue that there is very little doubt about which gender beauty magazines speak to. For every guy focused magazine there are 10 titles aimed at making women feel inferior

    • Audrey
      Posted at 15:20h, 30 October Reply

      Agreed, Vic! I was going to say the same – not only for their body images, but also for how they see and will see the women in their lives.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 12:35h, 30 October Reply

    Thank you, Jon. There are a lot of good reminders there. And I’m grateful that your daughters have a loving father who recognizes these important things about our culture.

    As a woman in her 30’s who has battled life with little to no self-worth–one with decades of eating disorders and depression and looking to men to define my worth–let me share something that stood out to me.

    Don’t use the word don’t. 🙂 Your precious daughters will let the world define beautiful sometimes. They will seek approval. They will compare themselves. They will doubt that they are beautiful. And you cannot control that even though you want to.

    Use the word DO.

    Do remember that your father loves you no matter what.
    Do know that God created you in His image and he makes no mistakes.
    Do seek Him first.
    Do stay in the Word and become a woman of prayer.
    Do remember who you are IN CHRIST.
    Do find your hope in Him alone.

  • Rihanna Teixeira
    Posted at 12:53h, 30 October Reply

    Beautifully written from the heart of a father. I am one year “sober” after 10 plus years of bulimia and this is a message that is so needed in today’s society.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 13:20h, 30 October Reply

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story Rihanna

  • Leeza
    Posted at 13:15h, 30 October Reply

    Wow Jon! That is beautiful.

    I wish every parent would like a letter like that their kid(s). Parents are meant to speak truth into kids’ lives the way that you have; otherwise, culture will speak destructive lies.

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 13:19h, 30 October Reply

      Thanks Leeza, I definitely think truth is one of our roles.

  • Bobby Arkills
    Posted at 13:24h, 30 October Reply

    Thanks for this letter. I read it this morning as I’ve been thinking alot about my three daughters (14 year old and twin 12 year olds) and the messages they get everyday. Through Instagram posts, Twitter feeds, commercials and magazines they’re told “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have enough ‘likes'”, my friends are prettier than me. And it seems like no matter how many times I tell them, “You are soft hearted, you are unique, you are my daughter, you are a daughter of the King,” it still can’t compete with the loud voices of media and peers.
    Thank you for the encouragement to keep speaking truth into their lives. To be the consistent voice of God’s grace and His perspective on their beauty, inner and outer.

  • William
    Posted at 13:28h, 30 October Reply

    As a RETIRED middle school TEACHER, I could tell you stories about kids cruelty…..I told my students that their parents thought they were children and the kids thought they were adults but BOTH were wrong. Adolescence is it’s own animal!

    As the FATHER OF AN ADULT DAUGHTER, I see the good results of not allowing Barbie and emphasizing CHARACTER and the LORD.

    As the GRANDFATHER of a six year old girl, I appreciate this reminder.

  • Ed
    Posted at 13:35h, 30 October Reply

    a) While I hate to give that magazine any further mention, any woman worth her salt would stop buying it.

    b) I have no doubt your own daughters will see it as absurd as you do, because in the end it is their role models that determine their priorities and confidence, not magazine covers. Societal opinions surely have an influence, but far less on those kids that don’t need others to tell them who they are.

  • Emily from Reaching Beyond My Reach
    Posted at 13:41h, 30 October Reply

    This is absolutely beautiful. My dad passed away from cancer nearly ten years ago during my sophomore year of college. Though he taught me more than many fathers could in only 19 years and left me with no question that he loved me because he told me and showed me often, I have often wished that he would have left secret letters like this for my sister and me to discover. I did find a card he sent me while at camp that had some reminders of his love for me, which I have framed. I know if he could encourage fathers who have come behind him, he would urge them to do just what you have through intentionally leaving reminders for your children that you love them and value them. We are not even promised the end of today. Thank you for exemplifying the love of a father to your children.

  • Diana
    Posted at 13:50h, 30 October Reply

    Daddies are so important to girls. Thanks for being a great example of a great daddy.

  • Lindsay
    Posted at 13:55h, 30 October Reply

    I wish my father had said these things to me growing up. Perhaps then I wouldn’t have been 120lbs soaking wet and extremely tall and refusing to go and enjoy being a teenager because I just knew I was fat. I just knew I was. (I wasn’t……I was that girl people told to eat a sandwich) I didn’t feel beautiful until I met my husband years later…..he was the first man in my life to sincerely tell me I was beautiful.

    Fathers, Mothers, future Fathers…..tell your daughters things like this. Tell your sons. Don’t let them forget it. Don’t let them ever think that they are anything less than beautiful, wonderful, talented, phenomenal beings that God has put here for a special purpose. They may not understand the impact now. They may never understand the impact; but it’s profound and extremely important.

  • Zach
    Posted at 13:57h, 30 October Reply

    I know this question did some amazing things last time it was asked, so here I go…

    But that cover is just pretend, right? You’re not okay with is, are you Jon? You’re going to do something about this, right?

    As a father, I think we all struggle with this for our children, especially our girls. What can we do though? Throwing money at this won’t change it, but what can we do? How can we make our daughters see that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks about them, heck it doesn’t even matter what we think about them, it only matters that God loved them, valued them, and gave himself for them. But how do we make them see that? How do we make the world see that?

    Jon give us the answer! =)

    God bless buddy,


  • Kristen
    Posted at 13:58h, 30 October Reply

    Hi Jon, This is such an excellent and IMPORTANT post — I reposted it on my FB page with the comment that it should have been titled, “A Letter To EVERY Daughter.” I also emailed it to a high school guidance counselor I know. I used to write for a nationally known dating coach, and I emailed him to say I thought that instead of the message that virtually every dating coach tells women, i.e., There is something really WRONG with you, and you better fix it if you ever want to meet a man, that this message you wrote would actually produce women who will attract amazing men because they are beautifully CONFIDENT. I became a fan of yours after hearing you speak at the Advocare event in Brentwood, and reading “Start” (Which is an AWESOME book), but you have sold me all over again:) Keep ’em coming:)

  • Kathy
    Posted at 13:59h, 30 October Reply

    I have twin granddaughters who are 10 years old today. One is naturally very thin and one is naturally a heavier build. It breaks my heart that they are acutely aware of this fact, and the one who weighs a little more says, of herself, “I’m so heavy.” The one who is thinner also notes that she’s skinny and her sister is heavier.

    What a world when 10 year old children harshly or triumphantly judge their own bodies.

  • Bronwyn
    Posted at 14:04h, 30 October Reply

    I’m older than L.E. and McRae combined (and then some), yet I still have the fears that those teens have. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a more beautiful response to those fears.
    Thank you for sharing this part of your heart, Jon!

  • Mark
    Posted at 14:36h, 30 October Reply


    As a father of 3 girls (12, 8, and 20 months) I fully understand this post. I find it very often that people want mother’s to raise daughters and father’s to raise son’s, but a girl needs her father. She needs him present in her life to support her and love her and tell her that she is beautiful. if her father doesn’t do it then she will look for a joker that will. I have witnessed too many grown women who did not have their father present in their lives that struggle for a sense of belonging and love and end up in toxic relationship after toxic relationship.

    Thank you for your heart in this letter. I appreciate you.

  • Katie
    Posted at 15:03h, 30 October Reply

    Love this post Jon. As a 26 year old woman this battle never gets any easier. Tell your girls that they are precious, beautiful and loved every day!

  • Vicky Cox
    Posted at 16:51h, 30 October Reply

    Our daughters do need to hear this Jon – esp. from their dads. I cringe when my size 7 teen daughter complains about how fat her thighs are.

  • Steve
    Posted at 17:18h, 30 October Reply

    Awesome Jon.

  • patty
    Posted at 20:00h, 30 October Reply

    featuring your post on our blog tomorrow. thank you for this.

  • JT Adamson
    Posted at 20:59h, 30 October Reply

    Well said! I’ve always thought it strange that one portion of our culture will tell us we’re too obsessed with being thinner while another simultaneously preaches that we are too fat (as in your Elle example).

    Primarily, we are too concerned with being somebody else. A timely warning for kids and grown ups.

  • Heather
    Posted at 21:26h, 30 October Reply

    And as a Mom who still doesn’t have it right either, thank you for this post. It’s a tough mean world out there….but also in our minds. The more men who stand up like you just did, the better. Now it’s up to us women as well.
    My best to you, always, Jon.

  • Jeanette
    Posted at 21:28h, 30 October Reply

    When my sister and I were little girls, my father use to ask us, “What makes a girl pretty?” and he wouldn’t stop asking until we responded with, “Jesus in her heart.” My father passed away several years ago, but that lesson and his love sure heaven’t.

  • David Mike
    Posted at 07:13h, 31 October Reply

    Daddy Juke! I have 3 daughters. Awesome post Jon.

  • Barbara
    Posted at 08:29h, 31 October Reply

    Jon, your message is very similar to the one in John Eldredge’s book “You’ve Got What It Takes”. I love it. I only wish that the parents of the Toddlers and Tiara’s would read it so that their 4 year old would know that you don’t have to wear fake teeth, nails, tan, and hair to be beautiful or to “win”. Teach them to accessorize with the whole armor of God instead!

  • Lauren DeMoss
    Posted at 10:03h, 31 October Reply

    This is what I try to tell girls every day. Thanks for saying it too jon. Wish more daddies would say it.

  • David Kerr
    Posted at 21:59h, 31 October Reply


    As a daughter of a four-year old I live with the same fear of the future and how she will look at herself although it is another thing that worries me even more. My daughter is autistic and at times is unable to handle the scenarios of a social interaction. She is high functioning so I know her future can be as fruitful as any other child that chooses to work hard. My fear is that she will believe that she is not as capable and let others and herself be judged by this. Self-image is on the inside as much as the outside. God Bless and thank you for sharing your letter.

  • Josue
    Posted at 08:49h, 01 November Reply

    Sad culture. Can we promote true beauty?

  • Caitlin
    Posted at 23:08h, 06 November Reply

    I grew up without a dad but my mum instilled this in me. She constantly told me how beautiful I am, and how much she and God loves me. Thank you mum for giving so much strength to face the world knowing that I am truely beautiful and teaching me never to think any different! Its so important for parents to teach their kids true beauty before the world does.

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