Antidote to the Crazy Sorority Email: A Father’s Lovely Letter to His Young Daughter

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In an Internet world where expletive-laden, crazypants letters go viral for the sheer force of their vitriol, it’s heartening to see that saner, sweeter sentiments can catch some online attention as well.

Yes, that nutso Delta Gamma letter last week showed us all that at least one young woman thought it was okay to berate her sorority sisters for being “f***ing retarded” for not flirting with their chosen partner fraternity with enough vigor. But this week, an Illinois dad who’s also a psychologist takes too his blog to encourage his still-young daughter to ignore all that dumb advice magazines and books will someday spew at her about how to “keep [guys] interested” in her.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan explains that he was inspired to write the post after noticing “how to keep him interested” pop up in his Google window as one of the most-searched terms. (Anyone who has a blog and can see the analytics knows how heartbreaking it can be to find out exactly what folks are searching for on the Internet.) It upset him to think of his own little girl one day worrying about how to keep some dude interested, so he wrote her an open letter: “Little One, your only task is to know deeply in your soul—in that unshakeable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego—that you are worthy of interest.”

He goes on to tell her that he doesn’t care what faults her future mate has, as long as he loves her the way she deserves: “I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table — as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile. And then can’t stop looking.” It goes on for a while like this until we all start tearing up, and he ends with this: “In the end, Little One, if you stumble across a man like that and he and I have nothing else in common, we will have the most important thing in common: You.”

Of course, those of us who are more aware of inclusiveness would like to see him acknowledge the possibility that the love of her life might be a girl. And of course we hope he’s cool with her not marrying anyone at all. But girls, whether you have a dad like this or not, you should read this letter and take it to heart. You don’t need to keep anyone interested.

My mom used to tell me to look for the guy who looks at me like that. Like what? You’ll know, she said. And she was right. Dr. Flanagan is right, too: The guy who looks at me like that and my dad have startlingly little in common, but they do have me in common, and that is more than enough. correspondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of Sexy Feminism and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, due out in May. Visit her online at

Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong

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