TODAY   |  February 27, 2014

Dad’s note to daughter on body image goes viral

In Thursday’s installment of TODAY’s weeklong “Love Your Selfie” series, clinical psychologist Kelly Flanagan and his daughter Caitlin join TODAY to chat about the letter he wrote to the 4-year-old from a makeup aisle.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> on our "love your selfie" series, a father who writes a letter to his daughter about the real source of her beauty called "words of a father to his daughter from the make-up aisle." this has gone viral. check out this excerpt in his own words.

>> oh, my goodness! dear little one, as i write this, i'm sitting in the make-up aisle and the word on display have a deep power, words and phrases like "affordably gorgeous, infallible." when you have a daughter, you realize she's as strong as everyone else, a soul on fire with the same gifts and passions as any man. but sitting in the store aisle you realize most people won't see her that way. they'll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy, and they'll see her in a certain way in order to have any influence.

>> i love this, kelly and kaitlin flanagan.

>> i know you love to make funny faces, kaitlin . do you want to make a funny face for our cameras?

>> no?

>> we got a good one.

>> this is amazing what you've done. this is not about saying you're turning down the make-up products or sending a message against the make-up companies, right?

>> absolutely. in fact, i say at the end of the letter, kaitlin has been dressing up before she could talk, you know, in dresses and jewelry and i expect her to actually probably really enjoy make-up. but i do think that we -- i wanted to send a message to kaitlin about the fact that there are different kinds of beauty and some kinds are passing and some kinds last forever and the kind on the inside lasts forever.

>> to that end, there's so much to love in this letter but you talk about flawless letter and you say to kaitlin , your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. may your years be a preparation for that day. where does your wisdom come from?

>> i probably stole that from a writer named henry nolan . he talks about our life being a gift. i'm sure i'm channelling him in that as soon as there.

>> i think it's so great coming from a dad that you're passing this on to your daughter. i know you have two boys as well. there was a nonscientific survey about dads' influence on children's body. 88% say dad play as very important role and 70% of dads say they worry about their children's body image . what you're imparting to kaitlin at such a young age is so important. also a clinical psychologist empowering other dads.

>> i think it makes sense for dads to worry in the sense that they do matter. dads do matter. there are plenty of empirical studies that show that dads who are present and physically affectionate with their daughters and verbally affectionate with their daughters end up having daughters who have higher self -esteem, more self-confidence and generally end up in healthier relationships down the road. i think the message is dads do matter, it makes a difference.

>> i'm glad it's going beyond kaitlin and your children and now the whole world knows about it. kaitlin , high five. nicely done.

>> another one.

>> all right!

>> kelly and kaitlin flanagan, thank you so much. for more about body image and to