Sweet Sixteen

Listen, one day your world won't be this dark, darling. It might happen when a worthy person comes along. It will be someone smart enough to look in your eyes and see more than your eyes.

She wrote a letter to me.

She started by saying, “I know you’re probably too busy to answer…”

Then, she explained that her parents are getting divorced, that her father’s been cheating. Before he walked out, he got mad.

He called her and her mother “a couple’a fat pigs.”

She closed her note, saying:

“You wrote once about losing your confidence, and I think I’m losing mine, too… I’m sixteen, and I really do feel fat and ugly. And I just needed to tell somebody…

“…And you actually seemed cool. I feel like I can trust you. If you share this, please keep my identity secret.”


Firstly, I am NOT cool. Case and point: I once tried to eat so much peanut butter that my wife had to get paramedics involved.

Secondly, I might not know you, but I knew someone like you. He looked like you, talked like you. It was hard for him to feel cocky after his father’s funeral.

His confidence dried up. He felt like the ugliest, most intellectually challenged dunce God ever had the misfortune of creating.

But this isn’t about him.

Okay. So your father—let’s call things what they are—is a lost soul. I’m sorry, but you asked for my ten-cent opinion.

You, darling, are nothing like the world’s lost princes and princesses—who have bucketfuls of self-assurance.

People like you and I are bullfrogs.

Try to stay with me.

I believe this big fairytale is full of people who consider themselves royalty. They’ve got royal confidence, too. Plenty of it.

We’re not like them. We have gangly legs and big eyes. We don’t think much of ourselves, we walk with bad posture. Big deal.

So you’re feeling bad. Don’t fight it. Look in the mirror and let those feelings happen. Cry. Cuss. Feel lousy. Let it wash over you.

And once you’re finished, don’t ever do it again.

Because there’s too much living to be done. And you’re too damn special.

We’ve never shaken hands, but I know you. You’re humble. God’s artwork. No matter what your father called you, or what your shape is, he’s wrong.

Try not to hold it against him—even though you have every right to.

I’m willing to bet you’re selfless and brave. That you let people cut in line, that you pray for those hurting—just like I’m praying for you.

Listen, one day your world won’t be this dark, darling. It might happen when a worthy person comes along. It will be someone smart enough to look in your eyes and see more than your eyes.

And when that happens, I hope you’ll stare in the mirror and see the same thing.

But let’s get back to your letter’s original purpose. You wrote me because you need a little confidence today.

Fair enough, honey.

I’ll tell as many people as I know.


  1. Joby norman - January 27, 2017 4:02 pm

    I hope to meet you someday.I am in greenville, al.you seem to give hope to all which is in short supply.

  2. Michelle Kibodeaux - January 27, 2017 4:32 pm

    This should be required reading in every school, in every class, by every student, every day! As always, passing this forward so the ears destined to hear and the eyes needing to see do just that. Thank you, kind sir.

  3. sherry k. - January 27, 2017 5:55 pm

    I second the “lost soul”….what I wouldn’t give for a daughter…whatever size shape or teen attitude….Whatever was going on when he uttered those words….he will eat them or they will eat him before he leaves this world for judgement in the next. You, darling, tuck that hurt in the place that will make you the most compassionate parent on the planet someday….so you can tell a hurting kid…you matter to me!

  4. Nancy Segovia - January 27, 2017 6:11 pm

    I am a BBW – until recently I thought that it had something to do with SMDB. I didn’t know that it stood for Big, Beautiful Woman. And when I found that out, I embraced who I am. I always heard that I was fat and ugly. But I heard it as one word – fatandugly. There was no separation between the two words.

    Then I discovered BBW, and I renounced the word fatandugly. I am beautiful just the way I am, and so are you. If you are heavy it doesn’t mean you are ugly. Embrace who you are. Style your, paint your nails, wear make-up and clothes that you like. Don’t hide behind that stupid word “fatandugly” because it is not true. You are a Big, Beautiful Woman and the whole world is yours to enjoy.

    I am so sorry about your father, but I think it might be a good thing that he is gone. Just remember you are a BBW and not “fatandugly.”

    Smiles and blessings to you and your mom, Nancy

  5. Maureen - January 27, 2017 7:26 pm

    If only people could understand the damaging power of words. There used to be a little ditty – ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me…’ So untrue

  6. Judy - January 27, 2017 10:22 pm

    Daddy said stuff like that just to hurt, just to be mean and cruel. He’s looking for a excuse to leave and not feel guilty, so in his head, his reason for leaving is because his wife and daughter are a bit over weight. That’s probably the only excuse he could come up with. He’s all enraptured with his new women. I wonder how long that will last. Anyway, it’s not your fault, none of it is. It’s not your Mom’s fault either. So-let him go and do his thing and in the meantime, you hold your head up high. Remember God loves you and made you into the special young woman you are. Give your worries and anxieties to God–let Him handle it and you and your Mother, share a nice quiet house with no more yelling, watch what you want to watch on TV, eat the kind of food you and her life, without worrying if Dad would like it and grow the friendship with your Mother, even closer.

    My daughter and I went through this when she was 14. It took a while, but after awhile, she and I really enjoyed it just being the 2 of us.

  7. Nana - January 28, 2017 12:14 am

    Praying for you darling. We have all been there. Sean, keep up the good work

  8. Carol DeLater - January 28, 2017 2:03 pm

    Hello sweet girl. There are a lot of us like you…always have been. Do what Sean said and look at your outer self and get all that crap people have said out of your system. Then look inside and realize that is where the REAL you is. I suspect you do not have an outlet to express who you are. Say a hobby, a cause to work for, some focus that is special to the REAL you. Figure that out and throw yourself into it. There is a tremendous value in you, you just need to let yourself see it. I know about it….believe me, I do.
    xx, Carol

  9. Barb - January 29, 2017 2:48 am

    For some reason, we expect our parents to be different than, better than—everyone else. And we just can’t believe they are flawed people–how could our very own parents be so hateful!? And if they love us, why would they want to hurt us? Well, they have their hangups, insecurities and raging personal demons…and once that understanding sinks in for real, it becomes easier to forgive them…and to stop torturing yourself. It is what it is, human nature, the story of everyone. The forgiving—and not looking for a way to erase it all—will take hold when you truly understand the human frailty in your own parents.

    Sorry if pontificating…I really enjoyed the writing and the story!

  10. Margaret - April 25, 2017 9:51 am

    Sweetie you do EXACTLY what Sean says- let your feelings go and have a good cry. You need that emotional and physical relief. Then you pick yourself up and walk head held high because your father has NO control over your feelings, only the power you give him. You take that back, and you do it right now. This is your life NOT his. He messed up and is angry taking it out on you and your mother. He needs to put you down to bring himself up. So find your feet, and stand up, and know that there’s a whole army of people standing there with you. You may not see us, bless your heart, but we are there, have been through this ourselves, and take strength from that.

  11. marsha - April 25, 2017 10:20 am

    Dear God, please continue blessing Sean and his writing, you are reaching so many people who are hurting.
    Sean, thank you.

  12. Deanna - April 25, 2017 12:39 pm

    You are AWSOME! Baby girl!!!!

  13. betty miller - April 25, 2017 1:18 pm

    I’ve never noticed your big eyes, but, oh, that big heart shines through every time!

  14. Laurie - April 25, 2017 1:41 pm

    Sean i believe this girl said you are cool in the sense that you are obviously a kind soul who would not judge her and therefore she could trust you. And she was right.

  15. Melanie - April 25, 2017 1:57 pm

    Hello Sweet Girl, I can already tell from your letter that you have a wonderful heart and know that you have what it takes to make this world a better place. You will remember how words hurt, and you will go out of your way in life to give warmth and love to others because you will remember how it felt to be hurt by someone you loved. Your father doesn’t really think that about you or your mother. He is ashamed at being caught, and guilty over what he has done to his family and is lashing out to somehow put the blame on others so that he doesn’t feel so badly inside. Forgive him if you can. Every single girl your age looks in the mirror and fails to see her true beauty. Trust me. One of the things I remember the most from my 30 year high school reunion was having ‘real’ conversations with the ‘popular girls’, the ‘prom queens and cheerleaders’ that all of us thought had it made and hearing that they never felt beautiful or perfect, the way we saw them. It made me sad to realize that none of us saw our beauty and looking back, every single child was beautiful in many ways. God has never made anything ugly. Find the beauty in this world because it is everywhere and know that just like others have written today, I would cherish a daughter as wonderful as you.

  16. Kathy G Lindsay - April 25, 2017 1:59 pm

    A compilation of everything written above that we all learned. He’s angry and looking for a reason. The only one who can control your feelings is you. They’re only people with all their flaws and this is who you got dealt. But what I will add is this is your life script. Not theirs. You can write it to be what ever you want. Sky’s the limit. You can go thru life feeling bad about yourself or you can take control and create a life you’re proud to live. Go have a cry and then start creating this incredible life. Its not always easy, but make a plan and stick to it. You were given the gift of life for a reason. Go find it.

  17. June Roulaine Phillips - April 26, 2017 12:44 pm

    Been there and done it. Sweetie just remember it’s a bad reflection on him not YOU.

  18. Catherine Weed - May 1, 2017 2:31 am

    Thank you for spreading your light!

  19. Charaleen Wright - March 26, 2019 5:11 pm


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