To a Dad From His Daughter

To a Dad From His Daughter

A daughter needs a dad forever.
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Dear Dad, Daddy, Padre, Old Man,

Yeah! I'm writing an article about you!

We've been through a lot together. A lot of it was never expected, but everything has turned out pretty great if you ask me!

Remember when I was little and you had your blue Oldsmobile that had a completely blue interior? It was a pretty ugly car. You know, the car mom backed into while in the driveway! Well, I remember it because when you left for work I'd sprint up to the guest room and wave goodbye as you backed out of the driveway. I would yell through the closed window "I LOVE YOU!" When you saw me up there, you'd wave back.

As I got older, I was not nice to you at all. I would try to run from you when you wanted to spend time with me. I remember you held me on your bed one day and wouldn't let me go as I was kicking and screaming for you to let me go. I have no idea what I wanted so badly.

I remember Easter Sunday when I was only six or seven years old. You made me sit with you in your room for only half an hour or so, which seemed like a life time. You read me the Easter story in my children's Bible, which I must say had some really great pictures which I paid most of my attention to. Then, I was allowed to run downstairs where the Easter Bunny/mom had left a trail of plastic Easter eggs filled with goodies!

We went to Holly Ball at Cotillion together. We went on the numerous school field trips together. We traveled together numerous times listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire almost the entire way. You did the carpool drop offs and pick ups. You did a lot for and with me, and still do!

Then, when mom died, I realized it was just you and me. Two people who hadn't spent a whole lot of time together alone. Yes, here and there we ran errands together or you took me over to the driving range to teach me how to swing a golf club, but those were brief moments. That was our life from that moment on, until of course you found Diane and Emily.

I would stand outside the house for hours in the afternoons after school because I didn't want to go inside alone. I'd only go inside to go to the bathroom and to get a snack and something to drink. Finally, when you got home at 6:00 or 7:00, I'd go inside too. I've always felt the safest I can be when I'm around you.

Just the simple things like how to put my hair in a ponytail or how to put on mascara were a challenge. You were/are a wonderful father, and would try to help me but it didn't turn out too well. You worked so hard that meals were pretty complicated. We went to Champ's for half-price burger night on Mondays, The Tavern with all of our friends on Tuesdays, chicken night on Wednesdays, and then Thursday night would be something at home. On Fridays we usually also went out. Somehow we both didn't weigh 400 lbs each. That was our routine and we never really thought twice about it.

But, when I went down to San Antonio to spend time with grandma alone, I counted down the days until I got to see you. When you finally got there, everything felt complete!

Now, as you have been married to Diane for four years now, I still hate when you go on business trips or go away to play golf. I hate being away from you more than you know! You and I are partners. We stick together!

As I've been away from home and at school, I love calling you every night and hearing your voice. Even if I've had the worst day ever or the best day ever, I can tell you all about it. You work so hard to give our family the very best. I am very blessed to have the father I have! I don't know what I'd do without you, honestly! Forever your little girl, I'll be!

I love you!

Cover Image Credit: Elizabeth Finto

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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We Need To Stop Treating Arranged Marriages Like Business Deals

We need to stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

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When I was thirteen years old, I spent my summer break at my cousin sister's place. She spilled steaming hot tea all over her thigh leaving a huge burn scar. The first thing my aunt said to her was "What would your future husband think about that scar? You should have been more careful." My cousin was just fourteen.

Growing up, we are made to believe that marriage is the most important thing in a woman's life and is going to be her biggest achievement. I thought it was hideous how we were made to believe this and pressurized to get married in fear of what society would think until I realized just how hideous the process of an arranged marriage itself is.

According to an IPSOS survey conducted in 2013, 74% of Indian marriages are arranged. Being the youngest sibling and cousin, I watched a lot of my older family members and relatives getting arranged marriages. Having spent most of my life in India, I have witnessed no other marriages than arranged marriages. It is funny to me how people have a checklist of superficial expectations like stereotypical beauty standards and unrealistic salary expectations. From publishing ads like "In search of a slim, tall, fair, very beautiful, homely girl who knows how to cook and sew" in the newspaper, the process of finding a groom or bride through an arranged marriage couldn't be more misogynistic and sexist.

Surrounded by all this, I penned down a poem in hope that we would stop treating marriages like business deals where the groom gets dowry in exchange for his willingness to marry and the bride gets a husband in exchange for dowry.

I

The glass bangles on her wrist jingled as she placed a plate of laddoos in front of the guests,

She wondered if this was the family that would finally pass her parents' tests.

"Oh! She is as fair as milk" the boy's mother exclaimed,

Her cheeks flushed to the color of scarlet under her dupatta as trained.

"He is too short" to her mother, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

II

When no suitable match was found, the search was still profound.

"Hush," the girl's mother whispered "Don't tell them about the burn on the leg of the bride"

"What man will marry her once he finds?"

Another man arrived, tall, fair, and handsome- he was perfect,

Except that huge mole on his cheek which left him imperfect.

"The mole doesn't complement his face" to her aunt, he didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

III

Still no luck in finding a groom,

Her father placed a matrimonial ad.

"Searching for a suitable groom, engineer or doctor, 25, fair, slim, vegetarian, no disabilities" the ad read,

The ad was published in multiple newspapers so that she could finally be wed.

Another boy arrived, but this time the tables turned,

"What? She can't cook?" the boy's mother was left concerned

"Oh, what a shame" to his parents' she didn't appeal,

The deal wasn't sealed.

IV

When everything had been tried, a Jyotish was consulted,

Vastu remedies for delay in marriage he suggested.

"Fast for sixteen consecutive days, the kitchen shouldn't be in the southwest."

Yet another boy arrived, tall, fair, slim, no moles- he seemed the best,

With everything from their checklist of expectations checked, everyone seemed to be impressed.

"But his earnings are so less," her father was left depressed.

To nobody he appealed,

The deal still wasn't sealed.

V

The number of grooms decreased as her age increased,

The girl walked in with a plate of laddoos, but this time from the southeast.

"Oh my god, the bride can't cook," the boy's mother noticed,

Thankfully the burn on her leg went unnoticed.

Double the dowry was demanded,

Her father's savings made sure the groom's family didn't leave empty-handed,

The girl's mother approved the boy, so did her mother's mother,

And her uncle, his wife, and their daughter

Even to the distant relatives, he appealed,

The deal was finally sealed.

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